Cologne and Mainz were due to meet in the German Bundesliga on Saturday, November 19, 2011.
As it transpired, the match never took place. It had to be called off for the most incredible reason, a suicide attempt by the referee. If you are wondering whether the referee tried to kill himself during the course of the match, let me correct that impression. The match was called off 12:50 GMT, about 40 minutes before it was scheduled to start.
Referee Babak Rafati was found injured in his hotel room about two hours before the match was to kick off. The 41-year-old referee was said by Hanover police to have attempted suicide, having cut open his veins. Police spokesman Andre Fassbender said that there were “sustained injuries with no sign of any involvement by a third party,” and added,”It looks like a suicide attempt, yes.”
Rafati was rushed to hospital and at the time of publishing this article, his condition is unknown. According to SID, an AFP subsidiary, his condition has been described as critical.
The match was abandoned after no replacement could be found for the referee. Cologne sporting director Volker Finke said, “It is appropriate and correct that the game does not take place.”
A banker of Iranian origin, Rafati, a resident of Germany, has officiated in more than 150 matches in the Bundesliga 1 and Bundesliga 2. Babak Rafati became a FIFA referee in 2008 after only 18 months in the Bundesliga, during which he had officiated in just 34 matches. He is a UEFA Category 2 referee.
Rafati is said have had a life-time ambition of becoming a referee and is said to have watched the referee in matches rather than the teams. He became a referee himself at the young age of 16 as he believed that he could be the best. He began to referee Bundesliga 2 matches in 2000, and Bundesliga 1, five years later, in 2005. Apart from the Bundesliga, Rafati has also officiated in several Champions League and Europa League games. Although Rafati had been a FIFA referee since 2008, he was only nominated by the German Football Federation (DFB) to referee this year at international level.
The football fraternity has reacted with shock at the news of Rafati’s attempted suicide. Hanover 96 coach Mirko Slomka is reported to have said, speaking to told German Sky, after the news about Rafati broke out: “I know him very well, the news has shocked me greatly”.
Schalke coach Huub Stevens was reporetd to have been shocked by the news, as well. The Dutchman is reported to have said, “It’s hard to believe that something like this can happen. I am lost for words. Health is always the most important thing and football is only a minor matter in comparison. I can imagine no one wants to play after hearing the news.”
The new date for the match between Cologne and Mainz has not yet been announced.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.