Turkey’s Calvarese: Young people are victims of violence, they are scared

The shocking assault on a referee during a Turkish league match by a club executive, which has stirred international attention, has also been commented on by former referee, Gianpaolo Calvarese. Speaking to TvPlay, Calvarese also highlighted similar, worrying incidents of violence within amateur and youth football.

Commenting on the violent assault, Calvarese said, “I find it hard to recall similar situations in major European leagues. What we witnessed was excessive. This is not about football anymore, violence must always be eradicated.” Calvarese made a point of noting that reports of violence against referees tend to rise by 50% whenever an incident takes place in the major leagues. The reason, he suggested, could be that it encourages imitation in the minor leagues. “In 2023, such an act is no longer plausible,” he stated.

Calvarese also expressed concern about the violence young referees face, especially in lower divisions. He asserted that, “The problem with this type of case primarily lies in the lower categories. Many young referees have indeed been the victims of violence.” He mentioned that Gabriele Gravina, the President of the Italian Football Federation, is pushing for lifetime bans to be issued in such cases.

Discussing the possibility of a strike, Calvarese noted the idea had been considered, but was ultimately dismissed in order not to send the wrong message. A growing fear among young referees, according to Calvarese, is discouraging them from enrolling in referee courses. He stressed that, “UEFA, for the first time in history, has launched a recruitment campaign for referees. There’s a cultural problem both with children and their parents.” He cited generations of parents who believe their children must become footballers, something he has observed in youth football. Calvarese concluded by stressing that a new general culture is needed.

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