The prominent German referee was sidelined for wearing a beard
Benjamin Barth is one of the most famous basketball referees in Germany. But he is not allowed to lead international matches. Not because of his qualifications but because of his appearance. It publishes the corresponding chat logs.
DrGerman basketball referee Benjamin Barth has not been assigned a Euroleague game since a certain period of time because he has not shaved off his beard. The 43-year-old told “FAZ” and documented the incident with chat logs from the fall of 2021.
“Stokes made it clear to me that coaches and sporting directors don’t like beards and complain about it,” Barth said, referring to Richard Stokes, Euroleague’s head of refereeing.
“FAZ” has published the next WhatsApp history between Barth and Stokes. Accordingly, Bart sat in the booth in Bayreuth on October 5, 2021. He was due to officiate the Bayreuth Cup match against Hamburg when his phone vibrated. Richard Stokes has sent a message via WhatsApp.
- The translation into German was “Can you judge the match on October 12th?”
- “Yes (…),” Barth wrote again. According to the report, a chat dialogue ensued.
- Stokes: “Well, are you going to shave before the game?”
- Barth: “A full shave or a trim?”
- Stokes: “A complete shave.”
- Barth: “Seriously, Richard?”
- Stokes: “It’s a question…”
- Barth: “It’s my character. I look like a fat kid without a beard.”
- Stokes: “I can live with that. And you’re fit.
- Bart: Thank you, Richard. But I don’t want that.”
Barth initially thought this dialogue was a joke. But during the subsequent phone call in the car, which took place after the match, Stokes made it clear that he was very serious.
“It’s a form of discrimination,” Barth says.
The German government refused to shave his beard even after repeated requests. “I don’t understand what that is supposed to mean. What difference does it make if I shave or not? This is a form of discrimination. As much as I love managing the Euroleague, I can’t accept it,” the Munich player said, explaining his decision. Since then, it is no longer used in Europe’s top basketball league.
The guidelines for referees in the league themselves cover 17 pages. Almost everything is determined: punctuality, physical fitness (it is forbidden to gain weight during the season), communication (it is forbidden to talk to fans). Regarding “personal traits,” she says, “The Euroleague judge behaves and behaves in an exemplary manner.” There is no mention of beards, but some Euroleague officials seem to interpret these guidelines in their own way.
Barth is one of the most famous arbitrators in Germany. He has officiated 558 matches in the German Basketball League (BBL) and has been one of the most sought-after referees in the league for over 20 years. The former officer in the Bundeswehr finally hired a lawyer and threatened the League to announce itself. So he did.
Bart said of the beard controversy that he was no longer concerned with himself, but such incidents would not occur in the future. “You have to see if the organization is really changing. But it is important that the public knows about this process.”
The Euroleague commented on Tuesday and expressed his regret over what happened. “The recommendation to Mr. Barth not to wear a beard was a mistake. He was accepted by the Euroleague Basketball’s apology in April 2022.” Barth was also informed that the Euroleague would not take any such action in the future.