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By ESPN Staff

German ref speaks out over sexual harassment

The referee who alleged he was sexually harassed by the former German Football Association's refereeing advisor Manfred Amerell has spoken of his anguish. Michael Kempter told the Bild newspaper he had to put the story into the public domain to try to protect other young officials from being placed in similar situations.

Kempter - at 27 one of the youngest referees on the FIFA list, which allows him to take charge of international matches - approached the German FA (DFB) before Christmas seeking help after claiming he was being pestered by Amerell.

Amerell, who has always pleaded his innocence, has since stood down from his position after the DFB admitted they had evidence which supported Kempter's allegations.

"This has certainly not been pretty and it wasn't easy for me either, but I simply had to lift this weight from my shoulders," Kempter said. "He (Amerell) kissed me on the mouth. I turned away and made it clear that I didn't want that.

"Sometimes he would knock on my hotel door at night, but I wouldn't open it, then he was really angry the following morning at breakfast. Mr Amerell reacted very angrily to rejection."

Asked why he didn't come forward earlier, he added: "I was scared about my career as a referee, and I was ashamed (to come clean). I tried to hide it, but it kept re-emerging and, when I realised that there were other cases, I gathered the strength to say something."

Kempter is not the only referee to have spoken to the DFB about Amerell's conduct and an investigation is ongoing.

"I wanted to protect other young referees," he said. "For example, I heard him ask another referee if he could call him 'my darling'. That set the alarm bells ringing.

"I have received lots of information from other referees who have been subject to something similar. He abused his power and threatened me. He told me that it could have implications on my appointment as referee (for games)."

Kempter has not officiated since the allegations first hit the headlines earlier this month, but he has no fear about returning to the game when the issue has been resolved.

"All I have done is tell the truth," he said. "I was the victim. I did not want to keep all this secret and I hope the fans recognise that. I have taken the toughest and most important decision of my refereeing career and I think it is now time for Mr Amerell to admit to the truth."

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