Turkish Football Match Ends in Violence as Club President Assaults Referee; Greece Responds With Two-Month Fan Ban After Sport-Related Riot

Referee Halil Umut Meler was punched by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca

In a disturbing incident in Turkish football, MKE Ankaragucu's president, Faruk Koca, physically assaulted referee Halil Umut Meler after his team conceded a 97th-minute equalizer against Caykur Rizespor in a 1-1 Super Lig draw.

The assault involved a punch to the face and kicks while the referee was on the ground. Koca required hospital treatment for injuries sustained during the altercation, and "detention procedures" were announced by Turkey's Minister of Internal Affairs, Ali Yerlikaya. Several arrests were made in connection with the attack.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan condemned the assault on referee Halil Umut Meler, emphasizing that sports should promote peace and brotherhood and must remain free from violence. Home club MKE Ankaragucu expressed regret over the incident, apologizing to the Turkish football public and the entire sports community for the unfortunate occurrence at Eryaman Stadium.

In response to the incident and the broader issue of violence in Turkish football, Galatasaray, one of the country's prominent teams, has called for an emergency meeting. The club aims to address the growing problem of violence within the Turkish game. A statement from Galatasaray urged unity among clubs to collaboratively address and solve the challenges posed by fan violence.

Meanwhile, in Greece, the government has taken stringent measures in response to recent violent incidents related to football. All top-flight soccer matches in Greece will be played without fans in stadiums for the next two months. The decision comes after a sport-related riot outside a volleyball game resulted in life-threatening injuries to a police officer. Emergency legislation has been introduced to enforce the immediate ban on supporters, with possible extensions considered. The government mandates the installation of surveillance cameras in stadiums and personalized ticketing systems requiring identification for entry to combat violence associated with fan groups. The ban is part of ongoing efforts to curb long-standing issues of violence within Greek soccer.

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