Turkish referee speaks for first time after being pictured in brace at hospital

Turkish football referee Halil Umut Meler has spoken for the first time since he was attacked by a team's president on Monday.

The 37-year-old whistler, who was hospitalised for three days, was sucker punched by Ankaragucu's president Faruk Koca after their match with Caykur Rizespor. Meler had brandished a red card for both sides, before Rizespor found a late equaliser in the seventh minute of added time.

Koca stormed the pitch after the final whistle, punching the official, sparking chaotic scenes, with players and officials joining the melee or trying to intervene. And Meler has now spoken out about the incident.

READ MORE: Ref battered on pitch by club president pictured in hospital with neck brace after attack

READ MORE: Turkish club chairman who hospitalised referee with on-pitch punch quits football

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According to Spor Arena, he said: "There is no problem with my health… They called me from UEFA. I will explain these issues later. There is no situation at the moment, everything is possible. I just want to go home and rest."

Meler was snapped on his way out of hospital sporting a black eye, but without his neck brace. Ankara hospital's chief physician said of the referee: "He is in good spirits. He will have controls wherever he goes [next]. He has no problem except for a small swelling under his eye.

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"We put on a neck brace for precautionary purposes. The [cheek] fracture will heal in time, it was a small fracture anyway. There is no more bleeding."

Koca, who punched Meler, has resigned from his position as president of the club "in order to prevent any further harm to the Ankaragucu club, Ankaragucu fans, the community I am in and my family."

He added: “I hope that this incident, which I, more than anyone else, cannot accept, will be a reason for our sports life, especially our football community, to be purified from mistakes, shortcomings and the culture of violence."

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack, while the Turkish Football Federation has halted all domestic football indefinitely.

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