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Turkish fan violence ‘absolutely unacceptable’: Infantino

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Monday condemned as “absolutely unacceptable” the attacks by Trabzonspor fans on Fenerbahce players following Sunday’s Super Lig match.

The attacks took place as fans invaded the pitch after the Fenerbahce players and coaching staff celebrated their 3-2 win in Trabzon, goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic being punched in the face.

Videos showed Belgian international Michy Batshuayi kicking a fan who had entered the pitch and Nigerian international Bright Osayi-Samuel punching another supporter.

The Turkish Interior Minister announced a dozen people had been arrested for the incidents on the pitch and five who incited violence via social media had also been taken in.

Infantino posted a strongly worded reaction to the latest violent incident to affect Turkish football.

“The violence witnessed after the Turkish Super Lig match between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce is absolutely unacceptable — on or off the field, it has no place in our sport or society,” Infantino said in a post on Instagram.

“I have said it before, and I will say it again — without exception, in football, all players have to be safe and secure to play the game.

“I call on the relevant authorities to ensure that this is respected at all levels and for the perpetrators of the shocking events in Trabzon to be held accountable for their actions.”

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) denounced the violence, adding in a statement on Sunday “the necessary penal sanctions will be imposed on those responsible for the violence”.

A previous incident, when the president of Ankaragucu attacked a referee at the end of a first division match, resulted in the suspension of the championship for a week.

A number of Fenerbahce trips to Trabzon in recent times have also been marred by violence.

A 2016 game against Trabzonspor was abandoned in the closing minutes after an assistant referee was attacked by a home supporter.

The year before that the Fenerbahce team bus came under attack from a gunman en route to the airport on the way back from the neighbouring Black Sea city of Rize, leaving the driver seriously injured.

In 2014 a match between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce was called off at half-time after the Istanbul club’s players were pelted with objects thrown onto the pitch by home fans.

Trabzonspor, who won the Turkish title two years ago, also found themselves in the spotlight in 2015 when the club president locked the referee and his assistants inside the stadium overnight in protest at the decision not to award his team a penalty.

They were eventually released in the early hours of the following morning after a phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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