Brain death of Berlin youth footballer (15) causes sadness

“Darkest Hour”
Death of youth footballer causes sadness and horror

At a youth football tournament in Frankfurt, there is an outbreak of violence with terrible consequences: a young Berliner is hit and later dies of his brain injuries. Sadness and horror are great. Also because violence in youth football is becoming increasingly commonplace.

At the youth football club (JFC) Berlin, football is out of the question at the moment. “Dismissal” is the rather technical-sounding note on the event page about the game of the B youth team against Hertha 03 II, which was originally planned for this Wednesday evening. This simple information can also be seen on the club’s homepage .

It is mourned at JFC Berlin. But the shock of the death of a 15-year-old from the U17 boys’ team in East Berlin is not only felt by the club from the capital’s Lichtenberg district. The judiciary is concerned with the violent events among youth footballers at a tournament in Frankfurt am Main, which led to the fatal injuries to the young player on Pentecost Sunday. And they lead to expressions of dismay from politicians and football officials.

Football and violence, unfortunately, this is a well-known phenomenon, especially on local sports fields and – increasingly often also in the junior area. The events at the “Germany Cup” in Hesse are particularly dramatic in their dimension. After JFC’s semi-final against FC Metz’s French youth academy team, which Berlin won, there was reportedly a scuffle between the players of both teams. A 16-year-old Frenchman is said to have hit the Berlin boy on the head and neck. He fell to the ground and was taken to a hospital.

“Social Problem”

The terrible diagnosis: brain death. It meant that the 15-year-old’s still functioning organs were kept alive only by machines. The victim was no longer conscious, and a return to life was considered medically impossible. The police and prosecutors then announced on Wednesday that the boy had died. According to the spokeswoman for the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office, Nadja Niesen, the young person from Berlin will become an organ donor. First, the body will be autopsied.

The alleged perpetrator was arrested. “The arrest warrant has so far assumed dangerous and serious bodily harm,” said Niesen. “Since the injured person is now brain dead, it will now be about the allegation of bodily harm resulting in death,” it said before the death message came. According to a statement from his club, the alleged perpetrator asserts that he did not intentionally injure the victim. FC Metz is available to the authorities to clarify the incidents. The JFC announced on its website that it did not want to comment publicly out of respect for the victim and his family.

A sports field in the Eckenheim district of Frankfurt has become a sad symbol of a worrying development. Recently, cases of violence have become public. A year ago, on a sports field in Berlin, an angry father attacked a teenage boy who had previously fouled his son. A knife was drawn during the argument.

“Darkest Hour”

The associations are aware of the fundamental problem of progressive disinhibition on the sports fields. The German Football Association founded the AG Fair Play and Violence Prevention almost a decade ago. “Football doesn’t have a problem with violence. But violence is a problem for society as a whole, which therefore also affects football,” said its director Gunter A. Pilz, probably the best-known researcher on the subject of football violence.

Will the drama surrounding the JFC player lead to new preventive actions? Decision-makers at all levels reacted with concern. “The terrible act of violence at an international youth tournament in Frankfurt shocked football in Germany. During these hours our thoughts and prayers go to the 15-year-old footballer and his family. We have to learn again how to treat each other decently – and that means first and foremost non-violently “said DFB Vice President Ronny Zimmermann.

“The fact that a young player was taken from his life after a football game in Frankfurt aM stunned me, leaves me speechless. I wish the relatives, the friends, the team infinite strength in this darkest hour,” wrote Berlin’s SPD – Interior Senator Iris Spranger on Twittter. Berlin’s football association president Bernd Schultz was quoted in a statement: “Our thoughts and sympathy go out to all the relatives and team members of the player concerned in these difficult hours.” You stand by the club wherever you can.

Much violence in youth football

In the 2021/22 season, the Berlin Football Association noted a total of 1936 events that concerned sports jurisdiction or were noted in game reports. Physical and verbal offenses are roughly balanced. Of particular concern, however, is that 43.5 percent of the cases were registered in youth football.

According to the DFB, however, the number of violent attacks compared to the total number of games is low. In 2021/22, 911 games were canceled, and not all because of physical violence. This corresponds to 0.075 percent of the total number of games played.

The JFC was founded in 2010 to convey an attitude to life that renounces the very violence of which one of its players has now become a victim. “Mental values, such as comradely behavior within a community and fair dealings with each other, are our priority,” says the website. “Fair play” is the “top priority”.

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