Ref's suicide bid forces media rethink

While the reasons for the attempted suicide of Bundesliga referee Babak Rafati remain unclear, calls are coming from within German football to change the image of referees in the media. Both the German Football Federation (DFB) and Cologne police have refused to release the reasons behind Rafati's suicide attempt after he was found in the bathtub of his Cologne hotel on Saturday having slashed his wrists. The 41-year-old was discovered by his assistant referees just hours before he was due to officiate a German league game between Mainz 05 and Cologne, but was released from hospital on Monday and is continuing to receive treatment. German daily newspaper the Cologne Rundschau reported Monday that a senior investigator from the Cologne police had said Rafati's attempted suicide was for 'private reasons' not related to football. In the past, Rafati has on several occasions been voted the Bundesliga's worst referee in a poll of professional players by German football magazine Kicker. The magazine's CEO has said they are considering doing away with such surveys in future. "We are considering whether or not in the future to include surveys of Bundesliga players on the question of who is the worst league referee," Kicker chief Klaus Smentek told SID, an AFP subsidiary. That comes after calls from within German football to cease such negative treatment of referees. Germany's former World Cup referee Bernd Heynemann, who officiated at France '98, has said the 'worst referee' polls have to go. "These polls are not meaningful, the referees have the weakest lobby and so such surveys are a waste of time," he said. Lawyer Rainer Domberg, a spokesman and ombudsman for Germany's top referees, says the blame culture aimed at football officials here has to change. "Referees need a different culture of recognition," he said. "In 95 percent of the games that they officiate, their performance is flawless. Referees seem to suffer under a curse they don't deserve."

Source: AFP