Attacks on referees on the rise in German amateur soccer leagues | News | DW | 09.07.2019
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Attacks on referees on the rise in German amateur soccer leagues

The German Football Association has said thousands of referees were verbally and physically attacked during the 2018/2019 season. Players also suffered violence and discrimination the association said.

The German Football Association (DFB) presented its "Amateur League Status Report," in Frankfurt on Tuesday, highlighting the growing number of attacks on referees during the 2018/2019 soccer season.

Despite 50,000 fewer games being played compared to the 2017/2018 season, the most recent report registered a rise in the number of attacks. In all, 2,906 verbal and physical attacks on referees were registered during the 2018/2019 season, 40 more than the season before.

The attacks were documented in 1.3 million referee game reports filled out on an online database. Officials said a total of 1.5 million games were played during the season. The data collected deals with men's, women's, and youth regional and district leagues. 

Read more: German documentary highlights violence against referees

Thousands of cases of violence and discrimination among players

Referees were not the only people on the field who were the target of violence and insults. Referees reported some 4,000 cases of violence on the pitch, and 2,725 cases of discrimination.

Referees were forced to call off a total of 685 games (0.05%) due to violence or discrimination.

DFB President Rainer Koch said the relatively low number "in no way minimizes the abuse suffered by victims. Every single case is one too many."

Referees need protection

Ronny Zimmermann, DFB vice president for referees, said it was apparent that "social conflict has arrived on the football field. It is something we have seen in society as a whole, where authorities are increasingly the target of attacks — one need only think about the attacks on first responders and police."

Read more: Football fan killed in Spain after Madrid clashes

Zimmermann added that despite such tendencies in society, "violence against referees, players, or anyone else is absolutely unacceptable." He said the DFB and its leagues "have to think about how we can better protect our referees."

In June, a referee in the western city of Duisburg was beaten so badly by a player that he had to be rushed to the hospital.

The incident happened just days after a sports court decided to ban another Duisburg player from competition for five years in a similar incident.

js/sms (dpa, SID)

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