In a shocking turn of events, Turkish Super Lig came to an abrupt stop after the president of MKE Ankaragucu, Faruk Koca, physically assaulted referee Halil Umut Meler. The incident unfolded on Monday following a Super Lig match where Koca rushed onto the field as his team conceded a 97th-minute equalizer, resulting in a 1-1 draw with Caykur Rizespor.
“The matches in all leagues have been postponed indefinitely,” Turkish FA [TFF] chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi told a news conference.
“This attack is a night of shame for Turkish football,” he added.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino called the incident “totally unacceptable” and said that violence has “no place in our sport or society”.
“Without match officials there is no football,” he said. “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.”
Meler received several blows from others as he lay on the turf and suffered injuries including a minor fracture.
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.
Yerlikaya added others had been arrested for their part in the incident, which he “strongly condemned”.
Meler, 37, is one of Turkey’s top referees and officiates international games for Fifa. He is also on Uefa’s elite referee list.
He also required hospital treatment and the chief physician of the hospital where he was treated, Dr Mehmet Yorubulut, said: “There is no life threat for the moment. He only has bleeding around his left eye and a small fracture.
“We will [monitor] our referee until the morning due to head trauma. We will discharge him from hospital after the necessary examinations in the morning.”