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FIFA Club World Cup referees voice support for Turkiye's Halil Umut Meler

December 22, 2023 at 8:12 pm

Faruk Koca, President of MKE Ankaragucu throws a punch to the referee Halil Umut Meler after the Turkish Super Lig week 15 football match between MKE Ankaragucu and Rizespor at Eryaman Stadium in Ankara, Turkiye on December 11, 2023 [Emin Sansar/Anadolu via Getty Images]

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.

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