Referee Ignace van Swieten bio

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Ignace van Swieten


Ignace van Swieten's first match in the Dutch professional league was in 1976, he was a FIFA referee between 1983 and 1990. The Dutch referee of the year 1984 died on Gran Canaria in 1995.

Relatively small, but elegant, eloquent and impressive, Van Swieten was popular and respected. He was openly gay, the first Dutch sportsman to be so. He was also a probation worker and these two facts turned into a nightmare when one night in 1990 he was assaulted in his home by one of his clients who hit him repeatedly with a hammer on his head. Van Swieten survived but when his assailant told the police that the referee had tried to sexually harass him, Van Swieten himself - still recovering - was arrested.

And then it got ugly. Remember that he was loved and respected, but the police in the south of the Netherlands thought otherwise of the openly gay referee. Two more ex-convicts (and ex-clients) told they had been harassed by Van Swieten, but it could just as well be that the police tried to make a case against him. Van Swieten was found guilty and convicted but since he had already been in custody he was set free. Later on the man who nearly killed him confessed he only did it to steal some money and that there was no sexual connection at all. Of course all these things tell us nothing about Van Swieten but a lot about the police in the south of the Netherlands. And about the macho reaction to a sports man who is openly gay.

He recuperated, but wasn't able to referee anymore. For some reason he also lost his job. Van Switen became a referee instructor and travelled to Suriname, the Dutch Antilles and countries in Africa to educate referees and to set up educational programs.

Ignace van Swieten was born during WWII in a Japanese-run prisoner camp in Semarang , Indonesia and died on Gran Canaria, Spain.

From our reporter: EPV