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Turkish Super Lig referee punched by club president after Ankaragucu v Rizespor

Referee Halil Umut Meler falls to the ground after Faruk Koca, president of MKE Ankaragucu throws a punch
Referee Halil Umut Meler also received several kicks after being knocked to the ground

A referee was punched to the ground by a club president after a fiery end to a match in Turkish football’s top flight.

Referee Halil Umut Meler was knocked to the ground by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca, who ran on to the pitch after his team conceded a 97th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 Super Lig draw with Caykur Rizespor.

Meler received several blows from others as he lay on the turf.

The incident sparked chaotic scenes involving players and club officials.

Koca required treatment in hospital but “detention procedures will be carried out after the treatment”, said Turkey’s minister of internal affairs, Ali Yerlikaya.

He added others had been arrested for their part in the incident, which he “strongly condemned”.

The country’s president, Recep Erdogan, was also critical. “I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the MKE Ankaragucu-Çaykur Rizespor match played this evening, and I wish him a speedy recovery,” he said.

“Sports means peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.”

Home club MKE Ankaragucu expressed regret, saying in a statement: “We are saddened by the incident that took place this evening.

“We apologise to the Turkish football public and the entire sports community for the sad incident that occurred after the Çaykur Rizespor match at Eryaman Stadium.”

Caykur Rizespor sent a message of support to Meler and expressed dismay about the scenes, stating: “We strongly condemn the undesirable events that occurred after the Ankaragucu match we played today.

“We convey our wishes to the entire referee community, especially the referee of the match, Halil Umut Meler, to get well soon.”

Galatasaray, one of the country’s biggest teams, have called for an emergency meeting to allow clubs to address what they say is a growing issue in the Turkish game.

“We must all come together today and act to solve the problems we are a part of,” read a Galatasaray statement.

Meler, 37, is one of Turkey’s top referees and officiates international games for Fifa. He is also on Uefa’s elite referee list.

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