Credit: www.imago-images.de-Scanpix
Credit www.imago-images.de-Scanpix

After the German referee Benjamin Barth revealed that he hadn't been assigned to any EuroLeague games because of his refusal to shave his beard, EuroLeague issued an official statement on the topic.

EuroLeague admitted its fault, stating that such a stance was a "mistake", and the league made an apology, which Barth accepted.

"Informal requirements around facial hair and other visible body elements have been common practice in different sports for many years. However, these requirements are clearly outdated and do not respond to the values that Euroleague Basketball stands for," a statement sent to BasketNews says. "A recommendation made that Mr. Barth should not wear a beard was a mistake, and apologies made by Euroleague Basketball in April of 2022 were accepted by him."

"Furthermore, Mr. Barth was informed that Euroleague Basketball would not apply any unfair measures in the future. Discrimination of any kind due to physical appearance is not acceptable and cannot restrict any individual from working in any field, including refereeing at the highest level."

Barth spoke to the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" and documented the incident with chat logs from the fall of 2021.

"Richard Stokes (Senior Director of Officiating of the EuroLeague) explained to me that head coaches and sports directors don't like beards and would complain about it," Barth said.

According to the report, the German referee refused to shave off his beard even after being asked several times.

"I don't understand what this is about. What difference does it make if I shave or not? It's a form of discrimination. As much as I would like to officiate in the Euroleague, I can't accept that," said the Munich native, explaining his decision.

From then on, he no longer worked in Europe's top basketball club league.

The German also said he is now no longer concerned about himself but more about making sure that there would be no such incidents in the future.

"Whether the organization really changes, you have to see," Berth said. "But it is important that the public knows about this process."

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