Turkish club president punches referee in face after Super Lig game

Turkish FA president slams 'inhumane attack' on referee (0:42)

Mehmet Buyukeksi condemns Ankaragucu's president Faruk Koca for punching a referee in the face. (0:42)

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has suspended all leagues on a night of "shame" for the nation's football after Ankaragucu's president Faruk Koca punched the referee in the face at the end of their Super Lig home match against Rizespor.

A Turkish court has ordered Koca's arrest after he entered the field and hit referee Halil Umut Meler when the final whistle blew after Rizespor scored a 97th minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Eryaman Stadium on Monday, footage from state broadcaster TRT showed. Two others were also formally arrested for "injuring a public official," Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said.

Koca announced his resignation as president of the club on Tuesday.

"I would like to announce to the public that I have resigned from the MKE Ankaragucu Presidency in order to prevent any further harm to the Ankaragucu club, Ankaragucu fans, the community I am in and my family," Koca said in a statement.

"I hope that this incident, which I, more than anyone else, cannot accept, will be a reason for our sports life, 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 of Turkish football will be discussed more realistically due to this grave incident that I caused. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again to everyone I have upset, especially Ankaragucu fans.

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

Ankaragucu fans invaded the pitch after the game and Meler was also kicked when he fell, though it was unclear who his assailants were. Meler eventually made it to the dressing room with the help of the police.

In an interview with state-owned Anadolu news agency, Meler said Koca also threatened him and his colleagues.

"Faruk Koca punched me under my left eye; I fell to the ground. While I was on the ground, other people kicked me in the face and other parts of my body many times," he said.

"Koca said to me and my colleagues, 'I will finish you'. Addressing me, he said, 'I will kill you'."

Footage later provided by the Turkish government showed Meler lying in a hospital bed with a swollen face and a neck brace.

"The bleeding in Meler's left eye started to decrease" and there will be no permanent damage, said Mehmet Yorubulut, chief doctor of Acibadem hospital.

"The fracture there will gradually heal. There is no brain damage," he added.

The Turkish Football Federation did not say when the season will resume but said "all those guilty of attacking referee Umut Meler will be punished in the strongest terms possible."

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the events that took place after the match were "totally unacceptable and have no place in our sport or society".

"Without match officials there is no football," he added.

Howard Webb, the chief refereeing officer of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) -- the governing body of England's referees -- also offered his support to officials in Turkey.

"PGMOL stand in solidarity with our refereeing colleagues in Turkey and in particular Halil Umut Meler, who was the subject of a shameful attack following a Turkish Super Lig game last night.," Webb said. "We wish Halil a full and speedy recovery.

"There is no game without match officials. Like all participants, they need to be valued and respected for the good of the game."

A FIFA referee since 2017, 37-year-old Meler took charge of Lazio's Champions League group game with Celtic on Nov. 28.

Referees in Turkey are often criticised by club managers and presidents for their decisions, but are rarely the target of violent attacks.

Ankaragucu are 11th in the standings on 18 points, three places below Rizespor on 22 points after 15 matches.