Turkish football boss who punched ref and sent him to hospital resigns | Football | Sport

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca has announced his resignation after punching referee Halil Umut Meler following his side’s 1-1 draw with Rizespor in the Turkish Super Lig on Monday. Koca was caught on camera throwing a punch at Umut Meler on the pitch, which sent the official to the floor and sparked a mass brawl.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said Koca and two others were formally arrested for “injuring a public official” as Umut Meler was sent to the hospital after being struck and could be seen sporting a black eye, once security had calmed the situation down.

Turkish league football has since been suspended as there has been widespread condemnation of the attack, with Koca confirming his resignation from 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 wrote in a statement on the club’s website.

“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 apologize 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 had been frustrated with the referee after initially sending off their player shortly after half-time, before conceding a 97th-minute equaliser to spark furious scenes inside the stadium – leading to Umut Meler being struck by Koca after the president ran onto the pitch at full-time.

Umut Meler laid on the floor in an attempt to protect himself from more injuries, before being taken to hospital when he was informed that he had suffered a small facial fracture, but had no brain damage and is likely to be discharged on Wednesday.

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