Mon, 29 Nov 2021

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Gueney Artak might not be the best referee in football as he is only running games in the lowest amateur leagues.

Directing games is a leisure activity for the 32-year-old security specialist from Hannover. The German most likely won't ever be elected as the World's referee of the year or get appointed for the Champions League.

But Artak, located in Hannover, certainly is one of the most unusual referees.

His imaginative self-evaluation might tell the story. "I have an advantage compared to my referee colleagues," he says.

"Or do you know someone like me? Baldhead, beard, tattoos, one that weighs 110 kilos and is looking like 40 years of jail," he is adding while smiling.

Artak is a well-known kickboxer, having won the 2017 heavyweight WBU World Champions title. His mere presence seems to help to avoid fights and arguments on the pitch before they get out of control.

"People know who I am. They know, I can fight alright, if necessary. They know what status I have and have respect," he says.

Being called the "problem solver" by German television, the unique referee meanwhile gained cult status. Whenever delicate duels are on, containing the high potential for violence, the regional association is calling for him.

His nickname as a kickboxer might sound martial but seems to show impact. Artak made his way in sports called the "slaughterer."

His approach as a referee is far from bloodstained. "I am not the messiah running through the Bundesliga taking care of all problems. My pattern is communication," he claims.

Before kick-off, he is talking to the team captains. "Listen, Captain, I tell them. You are responsible for your team. As soon as you recon one of your guys is getting out of control, it's up to you to get him down to earth, not on me," he reports.

No surprise, that Artak gained a special kind of reputation. "No one is provoking me. I don't want to be in the center of things," he is adding.

Instead of recommending bodybuilding for young referees, he is demanding advanced training regarding self-confidence and advice on how to handle delicate stations.

Thousands of violent offenses against referees in German football every year "make me very sad," Artak says, and is demanding more educational support for young referees.

"They need to know how to react when facing aggression, where to get help from, and how to gain confidence," he commented. "I just want to make my contribution to a better world and somehow safe the sports."

A referee deserves to be treated respectfully, he claims.

As it seems, not everyone is following his demand. Once, he had to help out a 15-year-old colleague directing a game on a nearby pitch. "I stopped my game and went there. I told them we can easily swap refs. That helped."

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