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Watch: Turkish top-flight suspended after ‘vile, inhumane’ referee attack

The Turkish SuperLig has been suspended indefinitely after a referee was punched by Ankaragucu’s president following a 1-1 draw with Rizespor, the country’s football federation (TFF) announced on Monday.

Ankaragucu chief Faruk Koca floored referee Halil Umut Meler with a vicious punch to the face on the pitch following Monday’s game, leaving the official with a black eye.

“This vile attack was not only made against Halil Umut Meler,” the TFF said.

“Today, this inhumane and despicable attack was made against all stakeholders of Turkish football.

“In coordination with our State, all the criminal proceedings they deserve have been initiated against those responsible and instigators of this inhumane attack. 

“The responsible club, the Club President, its managers and all the criminals who attacked Halil Umut Meler will be punished in the most severe way. 

“By the decision of the Turkish Football Federation Board of Directors, matches in all leagues have been postponed indefinitely,” it added.

Rizespor had equalised during injury time before Koca made his way onto the field and attacked Meler.

Meler fell to the ground and was hit again while on the floor in the middle of a melee of players, coaches and officials.

According to local media Meler was the transferred to a hospital due to his injuries.

‘Incompatible with violence’ –

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the incident which took place in the capital city, Ankara.

“Sports means peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence,” Erdogan posted on Twitter, which is being rebranded as ‘X’.

“We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports,” he added.

The next and 16th round out of 38 of the Turkish top-flight was scheduled for next weekend.

The SuperLig includes well-known players such as Argentina striker Mauro Icardi, ex-Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha and former Manchester City attacker Edin Dzeko.

The league’s title holders and record 23-time winners Galatasaray are in action on Tuesday when they head to Copenhagen in a must-win Champions League game.

SuperLig leaders Fenerbahce and fifth-placed Besiktas are also playing this week in continental competition but in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.

Ankaragucu are in 10th place in the table, four points below Rizespor after the draw.

Elsewhere in European football on Monday, Belgian giants Anderlecht and Standard Liege announced games between the two sides would be played without away supporters until the end of the 2024/2025 season.

The Greek government said football matches will be played behind closed doors until February 12 in an attempt to clamp down on violence at sports events.

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