Arda Turan fights with the referee. Photograph:( Twitter )
Turkish football authorities on Thursday banned the country's best-known player Arda Turan, on loan at Super Lig contenders Basaksehir from Barcelona, for a record 16 games after he shoved and verbally abused a referee.
Turan - who will now miss the last two rounds of this season and almost half of next season - was banned for 10 matches for attacking the assistant referee, three matches for insulting him and another three matches for threatening him.
"In total, he is suspended for 16 matches," the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) said in a statement following a meeting of its disciplinary committee.
Turkish media said the punishment was the lengthiest ever handed to a player in the history of the Turkish game.
He was also fined 39,000 lira ($9,200).
Basaksehir, contenders for the league title this season, had been leading 1-0 to Sivaspor in the May 4 game but conceded a late equaliser in a major blow to their championship hopes.
Seeking to launch a final attack down the wing, Turan felt the assistant referee's decision had gone against him and marched up to the official, remonstrating in his face and then shoving him firmly back with both hands.
Turan was then given an instant red card by the match referee and could be seen continuing to rant as he marched off the pitch.
'Should have been 6-8 matches'
Basaksehir chairman Goksel Gumusdag said he did not approve of Turan's actions and vowed the club would also punish the player.
But he accused the TFF of double standards and said that Basaksehir would go to arbitration in a bid to have the suspension reduced.
"As the Basaksehir family, we cannot agree to this... Arda Turan should have been given a ban of 6-8 matches," Gumusdag told the A Sports channel.
Turan joined Basaksehir this season on loan from Barcelona, where he had largely endured an unhappy spell on the bench after joining from Atletico Madrid.
Currently third in the Super Lig, Basaksehir have risen from obscurity to challenge the traditional Istanbul giants in the last three seasons. Critics deride the team as a pro-government outfit but this is rejected by the club.
Turan, who has won 100 caps for Turkey, makes no secret of his admiration for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who attended his wedding earlier this year.
The new incident came with Turkish football facing one of its biggest crises in recent years after an Istanbul derby Turkish Cup semi-final between Fenerbahce and Besiktas was abandoned last month due to crowd violence.
Fenerbahce will face Akhisar later Thursday in the final after being given a walkover when Besiktas refused to turn up to the resumption of the abandoned game.