FIFA Club World Cup referees on Friday voiced their support for Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler, who was attacked at the end of a Turkish Super Lig match earlier this month, reports Anadolu Agency.
“Hello Umut, as you see, one big family- directly from Jeddah in Saudi just before two finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. My friend, we send you a big hug. You belong to our family,” they said in a video released by FIFA on X.
“We know what happened but don’t worry you have us behind you. Take care, stay strong – kisses from Jeddah for you!”
England’s Manchester City will face Brazil’s Fluminese in the Club World Cup final at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah at 9 pm local time (18:00 GMT).
The former head of the Ankaragucu football club, Faruk Koca, 59, was remanded into custody for punching Meler in the face after a Super Lig match against Caykur Rizespor that ended in a 1-1 draw on December 11.
Following the final whistle, Koca walked onto the pitch and punched the FIFA-licensed referee.
Once Meler fell to the ground, several people kicked him, and the 37-year-old referee was taken to an Ankara hospital.
Koca was arrested for “injuring and threatening a public official” the next day, and later handed a permanent disqualification from football.