HomeI only meant to spit in his face - Koca defends attack...

I only meant to spit in his face – Koca defends attack on referee Meler

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Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca claims he had no intention of punching referee Halil Umut Meler following last night’s Super Lig draw with Rizespor, insisting he only wanted to “spit in his face”.

Koca and several other club officials stormed onto the field at the end of the bad-tempered contest, which finished 1-1 after Rizespor striker Adolfo Gaich scored a stoppage-time equaliser.

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Koca was seen to floor Meler – who also officiates in the Champions League – with a punch to the face before another man aimed a kick at the grounded official’s head.

Fifty-nine-year-old Koca was arrested, along with two other suspects, for “injuring a public official” but denied all accusations put to him.

CNN Turk report Koca, twice elected to Turkey’s parliament as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, said: “This incident developed due to the wrong decisions and provocative behaviour of the referee. My aim was to react verbally to the referee and spit in his face.

“At this time, I slapped the referee in the face. The slap I gave did not cause a fracture.

“After the slap I gave, the referee stood for about 5-10 seconds, then threw himself on the ground. They immediately removed me from the scene because of my heart disease. Other than that, I am not aware of any incident that took place.”

The Turkish Football Federation announced all leagues would be suspended indefinitely in response to the “despicable” attack, also blaming mainstream criticism of match officials for encouraging the violent scenes.

Their statement, issued via social media, also promised harsh punishments for the perpetrators.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the attack, saying in a statement: “There is no place for violence in football, on or off the field.

“Events following the Turkish Super Lig match between MKE Ankaragucu and Cakyur Rizespor are totally unacceptable and have no place in our sport or society.

“Without match officials, there is no football. Referees, players, fans and staff have to be safe and secure to enjoy the game, and I call on the relevant authorities to ensure that this is strictly implemented and respected at all levels.”

Erdogan called Meler today to offer his best wishes with the referee said to be responding well in hospital to treatment for bleeding on the eye and a fractured cheek.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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