German soccer referee 'tried to commit suicide'

    Babak Rafati has been a referee in Germany's top-flight Bundesliga since 2005.

    Story highlights

    • German Bundesliga match is called off after referee fails to show up
    • Officials later reveal that ref Babak Rafati tried to commit suicide
    • German FA president says that Rafati is "stable" in intensive care in hospital
    • The 41-year-old had been due to control game between Cologne and Mainz
    A German top-division football match was called off on Saturday after the appointed referee apparently tried to commit suicide before the kickoff.
    Cologne's game against Mainz was postponed when match official Babak Rafati failed to show up, the home team's website reported.
    German Football Assocation president Theo Zwanziger called an emergency press conference at Cologne's RheinEnergieStadion to explain the situation.
    "At 1345 I was informed that something terrible had happened," Zwanziger said.
    Rafati, a German with Iranian ancestry, did not appear at midday for his scheduled appointment with his three assistants, who then went to his hotel room and opened it with the help of staff.
    The 41-year-old was found inside in a "motionless" state, Zwanziger said. Police confirmed that no-one else was involved, and it is assumed that he tried to commit suicide.
    "According to the information that I have, his state is stable," Zwanziger said. "He is no longer in critical condition and he is currently being treated in the intensive care unit."
    Zwanziger said Rafati's assistants were receiving counseling after the incident, which came two years after the suicide of former Germany international goalkeeper Robert Enke.
    Rafati had refereed in the Bundesliga since 2005, and was on the panel of FIFA's international officials from 2008 before being dropped this year, the AFP agency reported.
    "The pressure in professional sports is unbelievably high. We just don't manage to bring the right balance into it. No-one should be in such a hopeless situation," said Zwanziger, who promised to provide support for Rafati's family and colleagues.
    Saturday's other Bundesliga matches were played as scheduled.
    Bayern Munich's lead was reduced to two points after a 1-0 home defeat by defending champions Borussia Dortmund.
    Teenage midfielder Mario Gotze score the only goal in the 65th minute to put Dortmund second on 26 points, above Borussia Monchengladbach on goal difference.
    Gladbach crushed fifth-placed Werder Bremen 5-0 as Marco Reus scored a hat-trick, while Schalke moved up to fourth with a 4-0 win at home to Nuremberg thanks to a double from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and another goal from veteran Spanish strike partner Raul.
    Wolfsburg moved clear of the relegation zone with a 4-1 win over Hanover, while third-bottom Freiburg snatched a 2-2 draw against visiting Hertha Berlin as Stefan Reisinger scored his second goal five minutes into time added on.