Turkish Football Federation hands Faruk Koca lifetime ban for punching referee

Ankaragucu also fined and ordered to play games behind closed doors

Faruk Koca, President of MKE Ankaragucu throws a punch at the referee Halil Umut Meler. Getty Images
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Former MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca has been given a lifetime ban by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) for punching referee Halil Umut Meler.

Meler was struck in the face by Koca following last Monday’s Super Lig match between Ankaragucu and Caykur Rizespor.

Meler had red carded a player from both teams before Rizespor equalised in the seventh minute of injury time to claim a 1-1 draw, with Koca then storming on to the pitch and hitting the referee, who was kicked by others while on the ground.

Meler left hospital on Wednesday after being treated for injuries, including a small fracture beneath his left eye.

Turkey's Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said Koca and two others were formally arrested for "injuring a public official".

The TFF announced on Thursday night that Koca would be permanently banned from football in the country, while Ankaragucu have also been fined two million lira ($69,000) and ordered to play five home games without any fans.

All Turkish league football was suspended after the incident with the TFF since confirming that games will resume on December 19 after a one-week hiatus.

Koca was twice elected to Turkey's parliament as part of President Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party. He was expelled from the AKP during a meeting of the party’s executive committee on Tuesday.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino condemned the attack on Thursday, telling Sky Sports News: “Enough is enough and this has to stop. I was shocked when I saw the images like everyone else.

“You can be excited at a match and you can feel for a team but there is no way we can accept anything like that to happen.”

Updated: December 15, 2023, 11:21 AM