Leading figures of the referee guild

Leading figures of the referee guild

Sunday was a special day for international handball with the european championship final in serbia. The same was true from a regional point of view, as referees fritz brotzeller from bergrheinfeld and wolfgang benzinger from konigsberg were honored in marktsteft for their 1 000. Game honored as referee team – a number for the local handball history books.

Brotzeller has been whistling since 1982, initially with his club colleague gunther fey. He estimates to have "directed something like 1,300 to 1,400 games," through the games with his first partner and individual assignments. Duplication of circumstances: in 1990, brotzeller and benzinger met at the squad training course and were both left alone because their respective partners had stopped. "We quickly realized that we fit together," fritz brotzeller recalls, and her referee vita backs up this statement. Because the players from bergrheinfeld and konigsberg rose steadily and in 1995 made the leap into the B squad of the german handball federation (DHB). There they were seven years in the use in games up to the 2. Bundesliga manner and the 1. Bundesliga of women.

"That was an amazing experience back then," brotzeller and benzinger still reminisce today about the greatest game of their careers. In the late 1990s, you were in charge of the derby between the then second-division teams frischauf goppingen and SG kronau in front of 4,200 spectators in the sold-out hohenstaufenhalle in goppingen. "Of course, insults were not absent in the long years," confesses wolfgang benzinger. Inglorious negative-highlight of pranked fans was a scratched car paint. During a one-off mission long years ago, fritz brotzeller also had the unpleasant experience of having beer poured into his car.

"But the positive always outweighed the negative," wolfgang benzinger assures us, "otherwise we wouldn’t have been there for so long". The 56-year-old has been acting as an impartial referee since 1973, and he estimates that he has refereed well over 1,500 handball games. "Our thousand games would never have been possible if it wasn’t for our interpersonal fit," says fritz brotzeller, citing a cardinal characteristic of the brotzeller/benzinger team. They understand each other blindly, spark on a wavelength and show hardly any differences in the rules interpretation even as team partners. Otherwise it would not have come to spending hours, days and sometimes whole weekends together in the service of arbitration. "Without the understanding of our women, 1 000 games would have been unthinkable", wolfgang benzinger acknowledges the understanding of his wife andrea and of karin brotzeller.

Regardless of the anniversary, the duo has decided to quit at the level of the bavarian handball association (BHV) squad after the current season. Nevertheless, the 57-year-old from bergrheinfeld and the 56-year-old from konigsberg will not be "unemployed," as they will continue to blow the whistle at district level. In addition, since 2007, they have taken over responsibility for referee training in lower franconia. "We want to pass on our experience," is how they explain their decision to do teaching work. Brotzeller also works as a referee observer, something wolfgang benzinger wants to imitate.

Stephan dinkel, as deputy chairman of the handball district responsible for teaching and performance, thanked the duo for their decades of dedication at the whistle and now in the teaching work. District referee director wolfgang ruger joined in the words of thanks and also presented a gift, as did representatives of the clubs from bergrheinfeld and konigsberg, as well as from HG marktsteft/rodelsee, whose A-youth team played the anniversary match in the state league against DJK waldbuttelbrunn.


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