Referees are not only exposed to hostilities on the pitch, but also increasingly on the net. DFB referee boss Lutz-Michael Fröhlich also makes coaches and players responsible.
sports show: Mr. Fröhlich, referee Felix Zwayer warned that more and more younger and amateur referees are being confronted with hate speech on social networks and that this can result in a loss of motivation to take the whistle. Do you share these fears?
Lutz-Michael Fröhlich: “Yes, absolutely. It’s certainly not just a problem for the referees, but one for society as a whole. But of course we also deal with it. Over the years, we have built up a sport-psychological network for the elite referees, where about This additional pressure can be talked about. But it is also very important in the youth and amateur sectors to deal with it.”
For example, in the Saarland Football Association there are crash courses on this subject for prospective referees, a good model?
Cheerful: “Definitely, we welcome any training or education that includes this topic.”
Have you personally ever been caught in such a crossfire?
Cheerful: “Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case for me so far, but the referees always have strong upward swings. Of course, it was particularly bad for Felix Zwayer last season after the game between Dortmund and Bayern.”
ZLately, the rule experts from Collina’s heirs have temporarily shut down their Twitter account after a shitstorm. What is your advice to young referees: should they read these almost always anonymous comments? Or better hide everything?
Cheerful: “I’m very much in favor of ignoring those things as much as possible and focusing on the sport and the task of dealing more with refereeing than with how you appear or are seen in public or on social media. It has to do that but also a rethinking of the referee’s job and of dealing with the rules.”
What do you mean by that?
Cheerful: “It’s like this: If you don’t hear much from the referees at a game and maybe they were really good at it, then little or nothing is talked about them. But if they are wrong or have a bad day, then they hit it.
In case of doubt, the referees are to blame, the referee as a spoilsport – that’s the general perception. There is a lack of backing and appreciation for the commitment and performance.
The players and coaches can also help by dealing more with the referee’s perspective and publicly making positive comments, for example about a great advantage or a great penalty.”
In youth football you can generally see a lot from the professional field: goal celebrations are copied, cool skills, but also the behavior towards the referees. Isn’t there a massive amount of catching up to do?
Cheerful: “Of course, what we see on Sunday in the district league or in the youth is often a reflection of role models. Again, I can only wish that the professionals change their perspective from time to time and point out more about fair play and more respectful interaction.
The problem is that if the number of referees continues to spiral downwards, many amateur and youth games will soon have to take place without referees. There have already been severe losses in the number of referees, also due to the Corona period, unfortunately the trend is clearly going down.
For the young people, the pressure in their studies and training is increasing, so sometimes it’s not that easy with refereeing.”
Is it still appropriate to impose fines on sports clubs if they cannot provide the required number of referees?
Cheerful: “Very difficult question that the association would have to answer. Can the problem be solved with sanctions? In any case, you should also look at the values, fair play and the image of football. That includes players and referees.”
Fewer and fewer junior referees – the amateur sector is threatened with problems
With all the stress on the pitch, on the sidelines and on the net, why should young people still be referees?
Cheerful: “Because it’s actually a great job. You’re an active part of football. You learn to take responsibility, make and represent decisions, deal with conflicts and also reflect. Refereeing is actually an excellent school for life. “