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Ex-referee reveals kindness of Bastian Schweinsteiger after suicide attempt

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Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger wrote to Babak Rafati in his darkest hour in 2011.

SSC Napoli v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

On November 19, 2011, the scheduled match between Mainz and Köln was suddenly cancelled forty minutes before kickoff. The jumbotron read, “Dear fans, for important reasons, the match today must be called off. We ask you for your understanding.” Only later did it emerge that the scheduled referee for the match, Babak Rafati had been found in the bathtub of his hotel room: he had slit his wrists in an attempted suicide.

In a recent interview with Blick Rafati was asked who had gotten in touch with him in the aftermath. His answer was surprising: “All the refs. And Bastian Schweinsteiger wrote me a letter that really touched me. It was not calculating in the least. He knew that after this incident I could never referee again.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger, 27 years old at the time, wrote to Rafati,

Mr. Rafati, we often fall down in life. We have to get back up one time more often. I wish you all the best.

Rafati felt that Schweinsteiger’s message was “an incredibly great human gesture.”

Rafati indeed got back up. Since recovering, he has written about his experiences in a book and now works as a speaker on stress and stress management and as mental-coach for several active Bundesliga players.