July 12, 2011

TALENT POOL: Michael Kempter

Michael Kempter, the greatest hope of German refereeing
This is the first article of the recently established section "My Talent Pool" which will be monthly updated. The goal of this section is to focus on match officials who are young and talented and of whom I expect that we will see them soon in bigger tournaments or competitions.

As German, I will start with a German as well whose rapidly rising career has been interrupted last year by an "off-pitch-affair": Michael Kempter. Born in 1983, he lives in Sauldorf, close to Bodensee, works as bank clerk and enjoys his leisure time as he once said along with his younger brother Robert (1988) who functions as 2nd Bundesliga referee and Assistant Referee in Bundesliga, too.
When he was 11 years old he sent a letter to the former DFB Referee teacher Eugen Strigel in which he asked him how to become a referee. Normally, you may only make the referee exam in Germany when you have already passed the borderline of 14 years. Well, his letter seems to have allowed him to do the test with 12 years. On his 12th birthday, Kempter was invited by DFB to make the exam and he did - without mistake. Eleven years later, Kempter made history again: born in 1983 he was promoted in 2006 to become the youngest Bundesliga referee ever, even Markus Merk was older when he was selected for Bundesliga. He merely needed a total amount of 38 matches in Bundesliga before being set on the FIFA list in 2010, with 26 years. Until his career has been interrupted, he whistled 48 Bundesliga matches. What sort? Well. Stuttgart-Bayern, Hamburg-Dortmund, Leverkusen-Bremen, Bayern-Dortmund....these matches were refereed in the previous years by names like Fandel, Stark or Merk. Kempter got them, DFB had good reasons for it and you cannot find any match in which Kempter made a really big, essential mistake. No damn match. In addition, he managed to convince not only by correct decisions and good perfomances in difficult and important matches, no, he furthermore refereed the matches with a neutral authority which was authentic and one aspect was very impressive: the players accepted him. He was at one level with the players and at one age. He made jokes with him and was talking to them, the distance between player and Kempter was very small.

Michael Kempter and Manfred Amerell a few weeks before
What happened then? Well, most of the people were probably surprised when recognizing that Kempter disappeared from FIFA list only one year later. He refereed his (so far) last match in Bundesliga in January 2010 (Schalke-Nuremberg 1-0). A few weeks before, he reported to the former DFB Referee Chief Volker Roth that he was sexually harassed by his mentor Amerell. From this point, this case was in focus of German media every day, the result of it was that Amerell denied this accusation. In return, he published an e-mail which was written by Michael Kempter to Amerell two years earlier which was written ahead a semifinal between Bayern Munich and Internazionale Milano. The mail written by the young referee said: "Hi my honey. I am expecting the Bayern match, hopefully, they will be knocked out. Then, we will clink glasses.". Well, in the course of events Kempter said that this mail had been written by him but that he regreted the content. The phrase "my honey" was only to impress Amerell. If he had not followed his mentor's wishes, he would not have had any chance to get neither promotions nor appointments.
Then, Amerell requested recovery of damages by Kempter, several thousands. As a tribunal had to decide about this issue, DFB decided to take Kempter out of Bundesliga and put him into 3rd division. "As soon as the tribunal confirmed Kempter, he can get matches in this league again", said Herbert Fandel, who took the place of Volker Roth who retired as consequence to this affair.
As the tribunal decided in May that Kempter is right, he will probably get his first matches after all this in the season which will start in the next week.
One certainly has to weigh up his amazing talent and this incident including the possible partisanship. By the way: he refereed five matches of Bayern, Bayern won 4, one draw, no mistakes for or against Bayern. As Kempter has been regarded being the coming world referee I think that DFB cannot give up him.

What do you think? Has Kempter a chance to return? I am sure that he will be in Bundesliga in 2 or 3 years, but what about FIFA?


  1. AssistantRef13/7/11 10:32

    Michael Kempter is definitely a talent to be recovered. Bayern question should non affect, for me.
    My only doubt is this: so his career has been favored by friendship with a referee's observer as Amerell? It would not be a good sign for young referees, who should grow only because of meritocracy: also in Italy this problem is very common

  2. One has to say that every referee has a specific mentor who often comes from the same "Landesverband" like the referee. As Kempter said, he accepted this close friendship because Amerell threated him that he would not appoint him if he resisted. Kempter saw his career in danger, he said.

  3. AssistantRef13/7/11 12:58

    I understand the role of mentor, until he becomes a lobbyist (as happens sometimes in Italy).
    However, Kempter has already been punished enough, and it is right to return.

  4. For this reason (lobbyism), DFB changed its procedures basically. For Kempter, that comes too late. I hope that this affair is no stone in his way, I am sure that DFB's decisions (promotion, yes no?) does not depend on it, but I am not sure what about FIFA, but, in the forseeable future, Kempter will not return on this list.

  5. AssistantRef13/7/11 13:23

    I think that if he will be promoted by the DFB, FIFA will accept it as well: there is the precedent of Stephàne Brè, who was withdrawn from FIFA list by French Federation in 2005, after a UEFA's request (he had circulated a ranking of European referees, without permission), and then, a year later, he still had the badge FIFA.

  6. Ok, it is always good if there is such a preceding case. That makes me hope :)

  7. Perhaps you could suggest another talent I can focus on next month. I want to concentrate on Walter Lopez, Alireza Faghani or Györgiy Ring in the future, but perhaps you know other names.

  8. AssistantRef13/7/11 15:14

    Maybe Antony Gautier (born in 1977) or Clement Turpin (born in 1982), best referees in France this season: since Lannoy and Duhamel are in decline, Gautier and Turpin may grow quickly even in Uefa ranking.

  9. Turpin is good. Thanks. Turpin is under Cantalejo's observation like Attwell.
    But I would not forget Chapron.

  10. AssistantRef13/7/11 15:51

    Chapron is currently the no. 3 in ranking Uefa (after Lannoy and Duhamel), but this season he has been suspended for 3 months by the French federation for having expressed negative opinions against Federation: this may not play in his favor

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  12. do you think that FIFA invites referees without reasons? ;)

  13. AssistantRef13/7/11 16:10

    I agree with you, but the French federation may create problems (and World Cup U17 is not equal to World Cup 2014: for example, at World Cup U17 in 2007 Bertrand Layec was invited; a few months after Stephane Lannoy was selected for World Cup 2010).

  14. yes, but that was because Layec finished his career a few months before.
    I think that all referees who were in Mexico are observed by FIFA, some more, some less.

  15. AssistantRef13/7/11 18:28

    Layec finished his international career in December 2009, when he was 44 years old and potentially could have gone to the World Cup 2010).
    However I agree with your last words.

  16. I do not know the reasons for Layec's retirement. He had a couple of bad perfomances the season before, then again some good ones. And suddenly, I missed him getting some further matches.

  17. I agree that Kempter is a huge talent, but I have a question: why he said the truth about Amerell only in 2010, after he became a FIFA Referee and not at the beginning? It is good to have a mentor (Amerell is a former FIFA Referee), but a smart referee will recognize that, once he accepts favours from his mentor, he will have to return those favours, sooner or later. If Kempter benefited from Amerell, kept everything secret until he got his FIFA badge and then he wanted to get rid of him, there is a problem! A referee should be correct on the field, as well as off the field.

  18. Regarding Stephane Bre, he was wearing his old FIFA badge during the last two seasons of Ligue 1 (2009/10 and 2010/11), although he was not anymore on the FIFA List. According to the FIFA regulations, that was not legal, but, for some reason, FFF closed their eyes.

  19. I think everyone thought that in January: why now? Why not earlier?
    Kempter said that he went to Volker Roth to report it to him after he had heard that other referees are concerned as well. He heared from two younger officials that they were harassed as well by Amerell, at this point, Kempter said, he could not take it anymore.

  20. Yes, but that is the problem... Why he reacted only after he heard that others were harassed? Why not when he started to be harassed by Amerell? Obviously, he had some advantages while accepting the situation and then, after he got his FIFA badge, he thought that he does not need Amerell "help" (lobby) anymore. That is not the correct attitude for a top referee!

  21. I agree with you, although one never knows what feelings characterize a human's decisions in such situations.


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