Ennjimi: "French referees are being intimidated"

With only three years left before his retirement, Said Ennjimi cannot stand anymore the operation of the French refereeing, which works much "on fear". After his appearance in the Federal Referees Committee (CFA), Said Ennjimi will have to wait for a CFA meeting to find out the exact duration of the suspension (it can be up to 4 months), still active for the moment. His two assistants and the fourth official have been "cleared" and, therefore, their suspension was lifted. Ennjimi is questioning his refereeing career: "I cannot see myself starting next year with the same leaders at the head of the French refereeing".
- What exactly happened?
- In his report, Claude Tellène, the supervisor of the OM-Lorient match, said that I showed “disrespectful behavior incompatible with the function of a referee", as well as "unprofessional conduct on duty”, without specifying the nature or details of the facts. Following this report, Pascal Garibian, the Technical Director of Refereeing, wrote to the president of the Federal Referees Committee, Eric Borghini, and I have been suspended as a precautionary measure, since 7 May, in spite of the fact that I could never defend myself.
- Do you dispute this version?
- Yes.
- What is yours, then?
- Shortly before that game, I asked the Marseille’s delegate, Claude Medam, to retrieve a set of six autographed jerseys to offer to the Limousin charity. I said that I will pay for them. At the end of the match, Mr. Medam found me in the change room and brought me the jerseys in a bag. I asked him whether he could have them autographed, given the defeat of Marseille, and he replied: "I do not think they will sign them because they lost the game"and throwed the jerseys bag on my bag, in a rather dismissive manner and very angry, certainly because of the defeat of his team. Seeing this attitude, I took the shirt bag and told him that if he uses this tone, it is best to return the jerseys and the invoice. The OM physio entered at that time in the dressing room to offer us very nicely a post-match massage. I said at that time: "I do not want to see anyone right now" on a firm tone, I admit, and under the wrath of the more than unpleasant attitude of Mr. Medam.
- Did it stop there?
- Following these misunderstandings, we received Claude Tellène, the observer of the game, which told us that he felt a little tension in the corridors and asked us what are the reasons. We explained the situation and replied that there was nothing serious. And that's it. Moreover, the team delegates confirmed it.
- At that time, you decided to leave Stade Vélodrome in order to not inflame the situation, right?
- I sent a text message to Mr. Labrune because the referees were invited for dinner. I told him that I will not stay, in order to not inflame the situation and that we are about to take a taxi to our hotel. Labrune, very intelligently, managed to restore the calm and the incident was closed. Everyone was invited to the dinner, including the referees and the members of the delegation.
- It was during this dinner that you broke your duty of confidentiality?
- During the dinner, there were several conversations for more than three hours. It was a buffet and people moved around. At one point, Vincent Labrune wondered if there was a penalty in Bordeaux, for example, I said yes, etc. It was a friendly discussion and there was no problem, since some members of the Legal Committee of the LFP, who attended that dinner, attested. There was nothing special during that meal. No breach of my duty of confidentiality or otherwise. The day after the game, I received a phone call from Claude Tellène who told me that Louis Vassalucci is his friend and that it would be good that I can send him and Claude Medam, a note to share my regrets for this incident. Although I thought that the case was already closed, I sent an SMS as soon as the next day, April 25, to the two people to express my regrets. I have had no feedback.
- And no news until 7 May?
- None. It was not until 7 May when I received an SMS from Vassalucci that he had just returned from abroad and that the incident was closed since receiving my message. The same day, I was warned by Pascal Garibian that I was suspended as a precautionary measure following a report by Claude Tellène. A report based on comments described by others and where I was not asked for my point of view.
- What was in the report?
- I was accused of a “disrespectful attitude towards the local leaders, including the Marseilles physio”. However, I received a written version from Stéphane Ré, the physio, which differs completely, as it confirms my version of what I said "I do not want to see anyone right now". The report also mentions the famous meal where the ethical line was allegedly crossed. I have written documents that prove wrong all the charges against me. Besides, Medam and Vassalluci confirmed in writing that they had "not witnessed unpleasant comments from the referees officiating that night". None of the accusations stands. It is not the substance that I question, but the form, since I have never been heard before my suspension and was not allowed to present my version.
- This is a point which you strongly disagree...
- It is clearly stated in the referee regulations that a referee may be punished only after having been invited to present his defense or to have been heard by the court competent to pronounce the sanction. It was never the case for me. Neither my colleagues for that evening’s game. There is a clear desire to make an example, even if it must be done with methods of thugs.
- What about today?
- I am still suspended as a precautionary measure, since 7 May. It was suggested to me that the final of the Coupe de France would be for me. This is no longer the case. Pascal Garibian, which is a procedural man, never heard me and his decision was based on the oral versions of two people. Garibian heard about it, while I report the facts. I tried to call him several times, but he never wanted to speak to me, preferring to simply say "a procedure is in progress." This gentleman is still a police commander and his decision is based on a report with only two versions of persons from OM, without hearing me.
- OM seems as surprised as you...
- Vincent Labrune is saddened by the turn of this case and supported me since OM and all officers have nothing to blame the referees for that night and did not feel concerned by this story. My three colleagues of the match against Lorient were also suspended while their names are never mentioned in the report. They are collateral damage. For several months, a negative current is within the French refereeing. At the Congress of the UNAF (National Union of French Referees), the President of the CFA, Eric Borghini, was booed. There is a real contempt for the Federation within referees and it feels every day.
- This story comes at the end of a complicated season for the French referees.
- We were never as bad as this year. At one point, when we see how some referees are despised, including me, how do you wish that men do not tremble? This also has implications for the amateur referees. There is no longer any confidence in the French referees. This manhunt, for I see it like that, does not impose on the current French referees a climate conducive to the development. Internationally, what is Pascal Garibian’s legitimacy? None. Therefore, it is not surprising today to see the absence of our referees in the international competitions.

Source: Yahoo Sports