Three-time world referee, own dental practice, extreme athlete, TV expert in Turkey, founder of an aid project in India: Markus Merk can look back on an illustrious career on and off the field – and he shared this in a detailed interview SPOX and goal done.
This interview was published for the first time on December 30, 2020. On the occasion of his 59th birthday, we look back on Markus Merk’s career in this context.
In the second part of the interview, Merk explains why an engagement at the DFB failed, how he was convinced of a career as a TV expert in Turkey and became a folk hero there.
The 58-year-old also explains why the interpretation of the handball rule is becoming more incomprehensible from year to year and how Sebastian Kehl tried to convince him to introduce video evidence more than twelve years ago.
The first part of the interview, in which Merk talks about his beginnings, his time as a dentist, in the armed forces and the highlights of his career as a judge, can be found here.
Note: “Niersbach said: You have slipped away nicely!”
Mark: I was offered to cancel the limit for myself, but I didn’t want that. Everyone knew that I didn’t want to go into the final year. A year earlier I broke up internationally, when I became world referee again. I wanted to make a self-determined decision at the climax and not have a farewell tour where I would hear the same sayings at every station.
What options did you have after your career as a referee?
Mark: I had three good offers from clubs, but decided against them.
Regarding a job at the DFB, you once said: “The DFB knows what it could have about me, but it doesn’t move. I won’t apply anywhere in any way.” Did you feel a lack of appreciation?
Mark: I am predictable. When I do something, I don’t do it because of a position, but because I want to make a difference and bring refereeing forward. Everyone knows that I already gave a lot of thought to myself in my active phase. In addition, it was a phase when refereeing wasn’t exactly going smoothly. It was clear to me that I would not sit down in the stands as a silent observer and say: Dear Felix Brych, I will give you an 8.5 today. For me this is pointless and not expedient.
Mark: At that time I had a very good conversation with the then DFB President Theo Zwanziger. Twenties ended like this: Mr. Merk, great, great! I knew you could be relied on. Secretary General Wolfgang Niersbach will definitely contact you within the next 14 days. Months later I met Niersbach at an event. He said: Markus, you are a child of the DFB, one of our leaders in refereeing. You once got lost! I had waited for his call until that day, but I also knew that no one had let him know. In associations it is simply the case that vanities and one’s own position play a major role.
In the same summer, you received an inquiry from Turkey. You should take on a job on TV there. How did that work exactly?
But you agreed later anyway.
Mark: In 2010 the President of the Turkish Disabled Sports Association sought a conversation with me. He was commissioned by a television station to get in touch with me. But I also said to him that I can’t imagine that. He replied: If I ask you to come to Turkey, then listen to it! I thought to myself: ‘Germans, Turks, disabled people – if I don’t do that, I’ll be dead!’ (laughs) In the beginning I was only supposed to be there on Mondays and anyway I expected that the matter would be over after four weeks. So I gave my consent.
They stayed for four years …