Turkish referee attacked by club president says he will not quit his job

Turkish soccer referee Halil Umut Meler leaving Acibadem hospital in Ankara on Wednesday. Credit: AP

The referee who was attacked after a top flight football match in Turkey will not quit his job, the head of the country's football federation has said.

Halil Umut Meler was punched in the face by MKE Ankaragucu President Faruk Koca - who has since been arrested - on Monday, after the final whistle of Ankaragucu's Super Lig match versus Caykur Rizespor.

Mehmet Buyukeksi, the head of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) dismissed reports that Meler was considering quitting, saying the referee was expected to officiate at the 2024 European Championship in Germany.

“Halil Umut Meler is a highly respected referee by both UEFA and FIFA,” Buyukeksi said. “We expect him to take part in Euro 2024.”

MKE Ankaragucu President Faruk Koca punched the referee. Credit: Getty

Meler, who suffered a broken bone, was also kicked several times, amid chaotic scenes which saw players and officials join in a melee or try to intervene.

The referee was discharged from hospital after being treated for a fracture near his eye.

The hospital’s chief physician Mehmet Yorubulut told reporters that the referee’s morale was high and that his injuries would heal with time.

All domestic football had been suspended in Turkey following the attack, but authorities confirmed on Wednesday that matches will now resume on Tuesday December 19.

The incident has prompted widespread condemnation, including from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former top FIFA referee Pierluigi Collina, who described it as an example of "cancer" within football.

Buyukeksi said the attack was "unacceptable", adding: "We will not allow attacks or disproportionate pressure on our referees, who are an important part of the game."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...