Monday, November 21, 2011

They are more than fellow referees ...

Photo courtesy of
As some may have heard, 41 year old FIFA referee Babak Rafati, attempted to commit suicide on Saturday prior to a Bundesliga match between Cologne and FSV Mainz. This match was canceled 40 minutes prior to kickoff.

Now, one of the recently reported facts on the matter is that his refereeing crew is being credited with saving his life.

See, Referee's life saved after suicide attempt, from the Independent with the gory details, including:
"Rafati was found in the bath of his Cologne hotel room by the officials after he had slit his wrists in an attempt to commit suicide two hours before the game."
Now, far be it for me to comment on any particular aspect of this story as frankly it would be irresponsible. There are a couple of general comments I will make however.

First, referees are humans, and suffer the same as every other human on the planet. While I have not always thought this way, thinking at times in my life they suffer less, and sometimes more, I certainly know now that we are all hopelessly human. I wish the man well on his long road to recovery both physically and emotionally.

Second, referees share so much with each other, especially at the highest levels. It is somewhat unavoidable as with so few matches, and so few high level referees, you see the same faces time, and time again. So often these men and women are far more than colleagues, they become friends, and sometimes close ones for life for what they go through together on the field, and off.  It is my sense that Holger Henschel, Frank Willenborg and Patrick Ittrich were close to Mr. Rafati before this tragic incident, but certainly will be now as they too are surely suffering as well.

Next time you are out, consider the part of life you are sharing with your "regular crew", and the team will be better for it, as it puts far more emphasis of why you are there, which is far more than simply refereeing a match.

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