German referee breaks silence over suicide bid

AFP News

German referee Babak Rafati has broken his silence over his reasons for attempting to commit suicide last November, just hours before he was due to officiate a Bundesliga match between Cologne and Mainz.

The 41-year-old was discovered in the bathtub of his hotel room in Cologne by his assistant referees on November 19 last year, having slit his own wrists.

After his condition stabilised, Rafati was treated for depression in a hospital near Hanover, but while he will not return to refereeing in the Bundesliga, he revealed that he has made a full recovery.

"I am healthy again," he told the website of German daily Bild, 151 days after his suicide attempt. "I was in a seemingly hopeless situation.

"It was a stroke of luck that I got help in time. I am glad that I survived."

Rafati's suicide bid shocked Germany, two years after national goalkeeper Robert Enke took his life in November 2009 by throwing himself under a commuter train.

Rafati, who is of Iranian origin, says he is planning a three-week vacation in Asia with his girlfriend and is still receiving regular supervision from a depression specialist.

He says he is considering whether to return to his job in a bank and is planning to marry his girlfriend later this year.

Rafati spent six years as a Bundesliga referee, officiating 84 games in Germany's top flight, and was a FIFA-nominated referee between 2008 and 2011.