KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- The credibility of the German football federation has come under further attack, this from two of its own former referees.
Once considered a model of governance and efficiency, the image of the DFB began to crumbled last autumn with a cash scandal concerning the 2006 World Cup which led to the departure of president Wolfgang Niersbach and two senior officials.
Now the DFB has been taken to task for its management failings by former FIFA match officials Rabak Rafati and Marija Kurtes.
Rafati retired from the men’s game suffering from depression after attempting suicide hours before he was due to referee a Bundesliga game between Koln and Mainz in November 2011.
In an interview with RND he blamed a refusal among senior managers to accept and learn from criticism.
Rafati said: “I now know that I had all the signs of depression. The reason was the bullying of my managers at the DFB.
“For example, homosexuals [in the German game] cannot say they are gay, referees can not say if they are depressed . . . professionals need a lot of courage to reveal mental illness.”
Rafati criticised the DFB for never making any attempt to seek him out and ask him to share his experiences so as to support other officials.
He said: “In sporting terms Germany are the world champions so why not be world champions in terms of human concerns as well?”
A lack of support from the DFB was also a central theme for Kurtes who, two years ago, had been voted German female referee of the year.
Her fast-rising career came to a halt a year later when her mistake forced UEFA to replay the final seconds of a European under-19 qualifier between England and Norway in Belfast. England needed a draw to quality for the finals but were losing 2-1 when, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Kurtes awarded them a penalty.
Leah Williamson scored but Kurtes disallowed the goal because of encroachment by an England player. She awarded Norway an indirect free kick and they played out the game.
According to the laws, however, Kurtes should have ordered a retake so UEFA ordered the final moments of the match be replayed. This time England scored and secured the 2-2 draw.
Kurtes acknowledged her error but complained at the lack of support over her three days in Belfast. She felt “like a prisoner,” she said.
On her Facebook page Kurtes has attributed her sudden retirement to a “lack of transparency in the decision-making structures, lack of clear responsibilities and contact within the associations.
“Our services are required but each of us is left on our own. From a scientific training and sport medicine point of view, this is very risky. The authorities also accept a culture of errors. Decisions and actions are not comprehensible . . . injustices are never corrected.”