AAt first everything looks like an everyday scene in youth football: The referee has just blown the whistle for the district cup final of the C-Juniors between FC Germania 1911 Enkheim and FC Kalbach, the people of Enkheim are celebrating their 2-0 victory with spectators of the same age on the field .
But in addition to the youngsters, a father storms onto the field, yells at the 15-year-old referee and threatens to behead him. The referee steps back, his only 16-year-old assistant referee rushes to his aid and sends his father off the field. The referees then retire to the dressing room.
The incident happened the weekend before last – and has now become a major topic in the (social) media because the Frankfurt referee association published a video on the Instagram platform. She also describes that the father insulted the referees throughout the game. The man is now being investigated for insult and threats, the police said.
According to the Frankfurt referee association, the number of incidents increases, especially at the end of the season, when decisive games are due to be played. For years, there has also been an increase in attacks on referees. In the youth sector, 95 percent of the perpetrators are the legal guardians. “Many clubs don’t take enough responsibility to put the parents in their place,” complains Florian Möller, public relations officer of the Frankfurt referee’s association.
One reason for the youth problem
Attacks like this are not isolated cases, but sad everyday life for amateur referees. The Referee Association reports on various cases in the recent past: A week before the attack in Kalbach, a C-class player in Frankfurt hit a referee twice in the face. Last weekend, a game in the district league B Darmstadt had to be stopped when a spectator knocked down a player. The linesman from the video had previously been attacked by supposed fans who followed him into the subway after a game.
As a consequence of such incidents, the referees’ association now recommends its members to only play games where court marshals are on site. Although these are prescribed by the Hessian Football Association according to the statutes, the clubs are often very lax in implementing them or simply cannot find anyone to do it. As a result, even young referees are often defenseless against attacks on and off the field, as many amateur games have to be refereed alone.
Möller now expects firm guidelines from the responsible bodies at the Hessian Football Association on how to deal with insults by spectators in the future. Because attacks like this are also a reason for the youth problem in refereeing. At least the young referees in the video didn’t let themselves be intimidated: They were back on the pitch last weekend.