HomeKoca resigns as Ankaragucu president and apologises to injured referee Meler

Koca resigns as Ankaragucu president and apologises to injured referee Meler

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Faruk Koca has resigned as Ankaragucu president and apologised for punching referee Halil Umut Meler following last night’s Super Lig draw with Rizespor.

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 for “injuring a public official” but initially denied all accusations put to him. According to CNN Turk, he said earlier: “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.”

However, the widespread condemnation – including from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who described the attack as totally unacceptable – has forced Koca’s hand.

In a lengthy statement on the club website, Koca wrote: “After the match against Caykur Rizespor and, relating to my attitude towards referee Halil Umut Meler and his family in particular, I apologise to the Turkish refereeing community, sporting public and our nation.

“How and why the issue got to this point is irrelevant. No matter how great the injustice, nothing can legitimise or explain the violence that I committed.

“Sports fields should be a place for gentlemanly competition. Any attitude that casts a shadow on fair play, including my own, should not be present in stadiums or halls.

“As someone who has always taken constructive measures in this direction since the day I became Ankaragucu president, I feel great embarrassment for having done the exact opposite.

“I would like to announce that I have resigned from the Ankaragucu presidency in order to prevent any further harm to the club, the fans and my family.

“I hope this incident which I, more than anyone else, cannot accept will be a reason for our sport, especially our football community, to be purified from mistakes, shortcomings and the culture of violence.

“At the same time, I hope that the structural problems in Turkish football will be discussed due to this grave issue that I have caused.

“I would like to apologise again to everyone I have upset, especially fans of Ankaragucu.

“I would like it be known that I am deeply saddened that both the club I manage, the football community and our country are remembered with such an image.”

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.

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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