Turkish referee leaves hospital after attack by club president that halted all matches #Turkish #referee #leaves #hospital #attack #club #president #halted #matches

ANKARA, Turkey — A Turkish referee was discharged Wednesday from a hospital where he was treated for a facial fracture after being punched by the president of a top-flight soccer club.

The attack led to the Turkish Football Federation suspending all league games.

MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca attacked Halil Umut Meler on the pitch after the final whistle of a 1-1 draw in a Super Lig home game against Caykur Rizespor on Monday. The referee, who fell to the ground, was also kicked in a melee that occurred when fans invaded the pitch after Rizespor scored a last-minute equalizer.

Koca and two other people have been placed under pretrial detention, facing charges of causing injury to a public official.

The soccer federation was scheduled to hold a meeting later Wednesday to decide on the possible resumption of league games in Turkey, which has been selected to co-host the 2032 European championship with Italy.

Meler, who was treated for a fracture near his eye, walked out of Ankara’s Acibadem Hospital and raised his hand to salute the assembled media before entering a vehicle. The state-run Anadolu Agency said Meler would travel to his home in Izmir, western Turkey, escorted by police for protection.

The hospital’s chief physician Mehmet Yorubulut told reporters that the referee’s morale was high.

“He has no problems other than the swelling in his eye,” Yorubulut said, adding that the fracture would heal in time.

Koca is reported to have told prosecutors during questioning that he merely slapped Meler, accusing the referee of “wrongful decisions” and provocative actions.

He later announced his resignation.

“I apologize to the Turkish referee and sports community, to the Turkish people and especially to Mr. Meler and his family for the attitude I displayed toward Halil Umut Meler,” he said in a statement read by his lawyer late Tuesday.

Media reports cited Meler as telling prosecutors that the club president shouted “I will kill you” during the attack and also threatened to “finish off” all of the match officials on the pitch.

Violence in soccer is commonplace in Turkey despite efforts to clamp down on it, although direct attacks on top-level referees are rare.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

#Turkish #referee #leaves #hospital #attack #club #president #halted #matches

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