Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina has reinforced his statement that abuse of officials is a “cancer” on football, after Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler was punched in the face by Ankaragucu’s president Faruk Koca.
Ankaragucu conceded a 97th minute equaliser in their Super Lig clash against Rizespor on Monday, before Koca rushed the field and assaulted Meler. A Turkish court ordered the president’s arrest following the incident.
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Speaking to media last month, Collina warned attitudes and abuse towards referees could “kill football.”
In a statement released following the incident in Turkey, Collina said: “speaking to media after the IFAB Annual Business Meeting in London just last month, on November 28, I said that violence, verbal and physical abuse against referees is a “cancer” that may cost football its life.
“A referee cannot be beaten because of a decision they took, even if it’s wrong. His or her car cannot be bombed or set on fire because of a penalty kick.
“Unfortunately this is not an exaggeration, as cars bombs and cars being set on fire is something that has happened in some countries, and not so rarely.”
Ankaragucu fans also invaded the pitch after the game and Meler was kicked when he fell. He eventually made it to the dressing room with the help of the police.
“Halil Umut Meler is a very good referee and a very good man. I can say this as I have seen him several times on the field of play and spent time with him at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina earlier this year Neither the referee, nor the man, deserved to live the experience he lived yesterday in Ankara,” Collina said.
“He was doing his job when he was assaulted on the field of play at the end of a match he just officiated.
“The image of Halil Umut lying on the ground, with his hands protecting his head while he was kicked by his assaulters, as well the image of the bruise under his eye, are horrific. But even more horrific is to know that there are thousands of referees around the world who are verbally and physically abused at lower levels of the game across the world, without being reported by media.”
Koca resigned as president of Ankaragucu 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.