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Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta slammed for ‘inciting pile-ons’ after referee punched

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Turkish football has been thrown into chaos after a referee was punched by a club president and Peter Walton thinks such an incident could happen in the Premier League

Former Premier League referee Peter Walton has used the shocking violence towards a referee in Turkey as an opportunity to have a dig at Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta.

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca ran onto the pitch after his side conceded a 97th-minute equaliser against Caykur Rizespor and punched Halil Umut Meler in the face. The referee was left on the floor and was later taken to hospital for treatment – and the incident has been widely condemned.

Walton officiated in the Premier League from 2003 to 2012 and now works in the media. He believes that an attack on a referee “could have just as easily happened over here” because respect for officials is at a low – and he specifically pointed the finger at Liverpool boss Klopp and Arsenal ’s Arteta.

“Every governing body needs to come out immediately and condemn these actions. Officials need to feel supported at a time like this,” Walton wrote for The Times. “Then, maybe the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta will think twice next time they rush to harangue an official or question his impartiality after the game and incite pile-ons.

Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta slammed for 'inciting pile-ons' after referee punched

“However, words and statements only get you so far. The real truth is that we need to be much harsher in terms of the punishments we dish out. Only then might we see some real change.”

Klopp is known for his passionate displays on the touchline during Liverpool games and was banned for two games and fined £75,000 last season following a clash with referee Paul Tierney. Arteta takes a similar approach and was suspended from the recent defeat by Aston Villa after picking up three yellow cards.

Walton does not believe that forcing Arteta to sit in the stands for one match goes far enough. He added: “We need longer bans, points deductions, managers should not be allowed to come to the stadium on match days. These sorts of deterrents send a message, that any form of abuse to officials is wrong and will not be tolerated.”

Refereeing chief Howard Webb said: “PGMOL stand in solidarity with our refereeing colleagues in Turkey and in particular Halil Umut Meler, who was the subject of a shameful attack following a Turkish Super Lig game last night. We wish Halil a full and speedy recovery. There is no game without match officials. Like all participants, they need to be valued and respected for the good of the game.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “There is absolutely no place for violence in football, on or off the field. It is totally unacceptable and has no place in our sport or society. Without match officials there is no football. Referees, players, fans and staff have to be safe and secure to enjoy the game, and I call on the relevant authorities to ensure that this is strictly implemented and respected at all levels.”

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