Referees in Berlin to strike over violence at soccer games

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BERLIN (AP) Soccer referees in Berlin are going on strike because of ongoing violence at games.

The Berlin soccer federation, known as the BFV, said Friday it has been informed by its referee committee that the officials are withdrawing their services this weekend from all games in the sixth division, the highest level in the German capital.

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“Violence on Berlin’s soccer fields has gone up this season compared to last season,” the referees said in a statement quoted on the BFV’s website. “After just a few match-days we have already recorded 109 incidents of violence and discrimination on Berlin soccer fields. In 53 cases the referee was the victim. These are alarming numbers. Action is needed, and a clear sign to stop.”

The refs are receiving support from league leader Sparta Lichtenberg.

“It’s about time someone bangs their fist on the table,” Lichtenberg president Werner Natalis told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “Lately I’ve seen again and again how referees are abused and almost physically attacked.”

It was unclear if Sunday’s 11th round of games would go ahead. Clubs had the option of agreeing on impartial officials from within their own ranks.

“In any case,” BFV spokesman Ralf Kisting said, “we won’t be making any referees available.”

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