Top German judge put on the sidelines to wear a beard
Benjamin Barth is one of the most recognized basketball referees in Germany. But he must not lead international games. Not because of his qualifications, but because of his looks. He publishes similar chat logs.
DGerman basketball referee Benjamin Barth has not been awarded more matches in the Euroleague since a certain time because he has not shaved his beard. The 43-year-old told “FAZ” and documented the incident with chat logs from the fall of 2021.
“Stokes explained to me that head coaches and sporting directors do not like beards and grumble about it,” Barth said, referring to Richard Stokes, Euroleague chief referee.
“FAZ” released the following WhatsApp story between Barth and Stokes. Therefore, Barth was sitting in the cabin in Bayreuth on October 5, 2021. He was scheduled to referee Bayreuth against the Hamburg Cup match when his phone vibrated. Richard Stokes had sent a WhatsApp.
- “Could you judge a match on October 12?” was the translation into German.
- “Yes (…),” Barth writes back. According to the report, a chat dialogue followed.
- Stokes: “Okay, and you have to shave before the fight?”
- Barth: “Complete shave or trim?”
- Stokes: “Full shave.”
- Barth: “Seriously, Richard?”
- Stokes: “It’s a question …”
- Barth: “It’s my personality. I look like a fat baby without a beard.”
- Stokes: “I can live with that. And you’re fit.”
- Bart: Thank you Richard. But I do not want to.”
Barth initially thought this dialogue was a joke. But during the ensuing phone call in the car, which took place after the match, Stokes made it clear that he was absolutely serious.
“It’s a form of discrimination,” Barth says
The German judge refused to shave his beard, even after repeated requests. “I do not understand what it means. What difference does it make whether I shave or not? This is a form of discrimination. As much as I would love to judge the Euroleague, I can not accept it,” said the Munich- the player and explained his decision. From then on, he was no longer used in Europe’s highest basketball club league.
The guidelines that referees in the league submit to cover 17 pages. Almost everything is defined: punctuality, fitness (gaining weight during the season is forbidden), communication (talking to fans is forbidden). About the “personal qualities” it says: “A Euroleague referee acts and behaves exemplary.” There is no mention of beards, but some Euroleague officials seem to interpret these guidelines in their very own way.
Barth is one of the most recognized arbitrators in Germany. He has refereed 558 matches in the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) and has been one of the most coveted referees in the league for more than 20 years. The former Bundeswehr officer finally turned to a lawyer and threatened the league with going public. So he did.
Barth said of the beard fight that he no longer cares about himself, but that such incidents will no longer occur in the future. “You have to see if the organization really changes. But it is important that the public is aware of this process, “he said.