HomeNFLMore trouble in Turkish football as club president orders players off field

More trouble in Turkish football as club president orders players off field


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Istanbulspor players leave the field in protest after the referee does not call a penalty in the match against Trabzonspor.

The president of a Turkish football team ordered his players to leave the field in protest of an officiating decision during a game on Tuesday, just over a week after a referee was punched in the face.

Halil Umut Meler had been attacked on the pitch last week after a 1-1 draw in a Super Lig game between Caykur Rizespor and MKE Ankaragucu. Faruk Koca, who was president of Ankaragucu, resigned and was banned by the Turkish Football Federation for punching Meler.

Top-flight action returned on Tuesday and this time a match between Istanbulspor and Trabzonspor was in the spotlight.

Istanbulspor president Ecmel Faik Sarialioglu came to the field and ordered his players off in the 73rd minute. He was upset that the referee did not call a penalty before Nigerian striker Paul Onuachu scored to give Trabzonspor a 2-1 lead.

Egyptian midfielder Trezeguet scored the opening goal for Trabzonspor in the 11th minute at Necmi Kadıoglu Stadium.

Muammer Sarikaya levelled in the 39th minute before Onuachu made it 2-1 for Trabzon in the 68th minute.

Despite attempts by Trabzonspor’s president Ertugrul Dogan and several Istanbulspor players to convince Sarıalioglu to resume the match, Istanbulspor abandoned the field.

The game was then suspended. The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) will make a decision about the match.

History of violence against referees

Violence in football is common in Turkey despite efforts to clamp down on it although direct attacks on top-level referees are rare. TFF chief Mehmet Buyukeksi blamed last week’s attack on a culture of contempt towards referees.

“Everyone who has targeted referees and encouraged them to commit crimes is complicit in this despicable attack,” he said.

“The irresponsible statements of club presidents, managers, coaches and television commentators targeting referees have opened the way for this attack.”

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA’s referees committee, said last week’s incident was horrific.

“Neither the referee nor the man deserved to live the experience he lived yesterday in Ankara. He was doing his job when he was assaulted on the field of play at the end of a match he just officiated,” Collina said.

Referees in Turkey are often criticised by club managers and presidents for their decisions.

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