Stadiums on fire, gun attacks & referees thumped – How Turkish football has been plagued by decades of bloodshed

FROM fans burning down stadiums to knife-wielding attacks on rival players and and referees, Turkish football has a violent history.

Decades of bloodshed have plagued the game – and chaos erupted at Euro 2024 during Turkey’s clash with Georgia after fights broke out in the stands.

GettyThe shocking moment referee Halil Umut Meler was punched by club president Faruk Koca after match[/caption]

ReutersFenerbahce fans once set fire to the seats after they lost the league title to their rivals[/caption]

ReutersTurkey fans were seen brawling with Georgia supporters in the stands at Euro 2024[/caption]

ReutersTurkish riot police shielding themselves from an angry mob of fans launching broken chairs at them[/caption]

GettyThe Fenerbahce team bus was once attacked by a gunman who riddled the windshield with bullets[/caption]

GettyFenerbahce stars were even seen fighting against rival supporters on the pitch[/caption]


In one of the most shocking scenes, a Turkish referee was punched to the ground by a team’s president.

MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca launched his assault on referee Halil Umut Meler in November 2023.

Pictures show the moment the an aggressive Koca stormed the pitch and threw a straight right hand at the official.

Meler’s cheek instantly started to bruise and swell as he was taken to hospital with a fractured eye socket.

An irate Koca later claimed he only meant to “spit” at the referee for what he claimed was a poor performance during the match.

Following the assault huge droves of pitch invaders emerged onto the pitch as they trampled, stomped and booted the defenceless official.

The terrible ordeal left a nasty stain on sport in Turkey with even the national media labelling it “barbaric”.

It even caused the entire Turkish Super Lig season to be suspended.

Meler was later seen wearing a neck brace in hospital as he spoke to the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Koca resigned after the strike and issued a half-hearted apology as he was formally arrested alongside two others for “injuring a public official”.

Another horrific incident saw manager Yuksel Yesilova being stabbed six times as he stood on the touchline in 2010

The game was suspended so Yesilova could receive urgent, life-saving medical attention as an ambulance drove onto the pitch.

After an investigation into the horror security breach, it was revealed that the knife man was his angry brother.


On two separate occasions, Turkish football has been set ablaze by huge fires inside football grounds.

The first came during the 2003-04 season when over passionate Gaziantepspor’s fans set a stand on fire during a match against Fenerbahce.

In 2010, Fenerbahce were involved again as they let out their rage at losing the league to bitter rivals Bursapor by setting their own ground alight.

Chilling pictures show dozens of seats up in flames with fans battling with cops across the stadium.

Soon after the first fire erupted, the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium looked like a warzone.

Bottles and stones were being launched onto the pitch with chairs being ripped from their bolts and thrashed around.

Multiple other parts of the stadium had caught alight in the ensuing chaos as emergency crews and riot police looked to control the worsening situation.

Angered fans ended up being blasted by water cannons as a much larger angry mob of supporters gathered outside. 


In April 2015, Fenerbahce’s team bus was targeted by a gunman who burst a round of bullets through the front windshield.

Driver, Ufuk Kiran, was left with severe facial injuries and blood dripping down his face after the glass splintered and flew in his direction.

Miraculously, he managed to keep himself conscious throughout the ordeal despite losing a lot of blood.

AFPThe heroic driver was left bloodied after the bus carnage[/caption]

GettyFenerbahce players were seen fighting back after they were attacked[/caption]

GettyThe ref suffered a fractured eye socket[/caption]

A riot kicked off after the referee was punched

ReutersPockets of flames appeared across the stadium during a heated up 2010 season[/caption]

He safely took the bus out of danger and kept all 41 players and staff uninjured.

Turkish Football Federation chairman Yildirim Demiroren labelled the horrific act a “terrorist attack” that targeted all Turkish sports.

In response to the near fatal shooting the Turkish Super Lig officials suspended play for just one week.


Turkish fans are infamous for making their feelings extremely well known at matches towards players and officials.

They can often be seen launching a range of objects from the stands to prove their hatred.

In 2009, assistant referee Tarik Ongun was whacked on the head by a lighter thrown from the stands during a derby between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. 

He required treatment on the nasty cut and needed five stitches before continuing on to officiate the game.

Turkey’s Euro 2024 carnage

TURKEY fans have already been involved in a number of issues in the tournament this summer.

The most high profile issue came in their very first match against Georgia on Tuesday 18.

The game quickly descended into chaos before kick-off after fights broke out in the stands as water poured from the roof as topless men scrapped.

Objects were reportedly thrown between two sections as fighting ensued.

The scene was described as “absolute bedlam” by journalist Daniel Storey with fears the game could be suspended.

A small section of supporters from both sides could be seen throwing punches and pushing.

Riot police were even bought in to re-establish control of the hectic situation.

Footage from the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund showed rain from a storm drenching seats by the pitch.

The fans later met their Georgian counterparts inside a fan zone in Poland following the fiery clash between the two nations.

A disastrous brawl broke out as shocking social media footage shows the rival fans punching, kicking and even dragging each other around Gorzow Wielkopolski in headlocks.

Months later, more match officials were targeted when furious supporters unleashed a barrage of stones.

The match was quickly abandoned after just 15 minutes when some of the fans miraculously managed to launch the rock hard pellets at referee Kemal Yilmaz.

The fan fury continued to erupt as Bursaspor goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov was even hit by a stone.

Moments after Yilmaz called off the match he was then struck by a launched missile.


Earlier this year, Fenerbahce were involved in the latest shocking scenes of violence that have blighted the Super Lig.

Following a last-gasp 3-2 win at rivals Trabzonspor, home fans ran onto the pitch – some even wielding weapons.

They could be seen lunging at Fener stars with some players like former Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi defending himself by throwing an astonishing spinning back kick.

Ex-QPR ace Bright Osayi-Samuel was also seen aiming a punch at a fan.

One rivalry in Turkey has even been dubbed the “derby of immense and never-ending hate”.

Fenerbahce and Galatasaray fixtures have been marred by scenes of violence for years.

In 2012, things flew overboard when Galatasaray won the league at Fenerbahce thanks to a cagey 0-0 draw.

At full time, police, armed with pepper spray, were forced to use riot shields to protect Galatasaray’s jubilant players.

The joy on the pitch quickly caused carnage in the stands as furious Fenerbahce fans ambushed the players.

Chairs were hurled around as supporters outside the ground whacked cop cars with stones.

Last year, a fiery match between Bursaspor and Amedspor in Turkey was abruptly called off as fans and players ran riot before, during and after kick off.

Horrific videos on social media seemed to show irate supporters hurling objects, including water bottles, firecrackers and a knife onto the pitch in Turkey.

Bursaspor players were seen storming onto the pitch and attacking their opponents as they warmed up.

Aggression continued throughout the 90 minutes, with fans throwing firecrackers onto the pitch and knives being allegedly brandished.

After the final whistle, Amedspor staff and players claimed they were assaulted by “private security supervisor, club security officer, club staff, and police officers” in the dressing room corridors.

Turkish football manager Yuksel Yesilova was stabbed six times on the touchline by his brother in 2010

ReutersFiremen battle to put out the flames in the stadium after Turkish fans set fire to the stands[/caption]

The ref was later seen in a hospital bed

APA crazed Trabzonspor supporter chased Fener players with the corner flag in a huge pitch invasion[/caption]

GettyTurkish football is renowned for their passionate fans[/caption]

GettyFlares, missiles, chairs, rocks and lighters have all been thrown at players during feisty games[/caption]

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