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Turkish football to resume Dec 19 after referee attack

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Turkey’s football leagues are set to resume on December 19 after a temporary suspension due to a violent attack on referee Halil Umut Meler.

The suspension occurred shortly after MKA Ankaragucu club president Faruk Koca assaulted Meler on the pitch, punching him after the final whistle during a first division match in the Turkish capital.

Meler, a respected 37-year-old referee with international accreditation, was released from the hospital in Ankara on Wednesday.

He received a phone call from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing concern for the incident.

The Turkish Football Federation chief, Mehmet Buyukeksi, announced that penalties for the altercation would be disclosed on Thursday.

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In response to the incident’s repercussions, weekend matches will be rescheduled. Buyukeksi stated, “With the decision we took today, all leagues will restart on Tuesday, December 19.”

Despite the severity of the attack, Buyukeksi expects Meler to recover and participate in the officiating crew for the Euro 2024 championship scheduled for June and July in Germany.

He emphasized, “We expect Halil Umut Meler to take part in Euro 2024. There is no possibility of him quitting refereeing right now.”

The disturbing incident on Monday involved Koca rushing onto the pitch with a group of men, assaulting Meler, and kicking him during the ensuing chaos.

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Koca’s anger seemed directed at Meler for sending off one of his players and awarding a stoppage-time goal that resulted in a 1-1 draw for visiting Caykur Rizespor.

In a statement, Meler revealed that Koca had threatened his life during the altercation. “Faruk Koca told me and my fellow referees: ‘I will finish you.’ Addressing me in particular, he said: ‘I will kill you.'”

The incident has sparked widespread condemnation, highlighting the need for swift and stringent actions to address violence against referees in football.

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Koca appeared to be incensed at Meler for sending off one of his players and then awarding a stoppage-time goal that allowed visiting Caykur Rizespor to leave Ankara with a 1-1 draw.

Meler released a statement Tuesday saying Koca had threatened his life.

“Faruk Koca punched me under my left eye and I fell to the ground. While I was on the ground, they kicked my face and other parts of my body many times,” Meler said.

“Faruk Koca told me and my fellow referees: ‘I will finish you’. Addressing me in particular, he said: ‘I will kill you’.”

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