Relegated deaf football team blame not being able to hear referee's whistle | inside World Soccer

An amateur football team made up mainly of deaf players have blamed their catastrophic season on not being able to hear the referee's whistle during matches.

Birmingham Deaf FC consist of both deaf and hearing players
Birmingham Deaf FC consist of both deaf and hearing players

Photo: Birmingham Deaf FC

Birmingham Deaf FC finished last in their first season in the AFA Saturday League's Division Five after losing all but one of their 26 matches, conceding 164 goals in the process with scorelines including 0-9, 0-10, 0-11 and 0-15.

The team, which was formed in 1921, have been relegated two divisions as punishment, but they had a decent excuse.

The squad complained that they couldn't hear the referee's whistle and claimed their requests for flags to be used instead were ignored.

Club secretary Guy Whieldon, who is also deaf, told the Birmingham Mail: "Most lads feel officials are not geared-up for a deaf team due to communication breakdowns, which cause difficulty.

"The referees are supposed to wave flags while, at the same time, blowing a whistle. Most referees forget to wave or simply don't want to use a flag."

A player from Red Star Galaxy, who beat BDFC 9-3 and 4-2, added: "They would just carry on running with the ball whenever there was a stoppage.

"When the half-time whistle blew they knew nothing about it. One player even went on and put the ball in the net and ran off celebrating.

"You had to grab them and point at the ref, it was difficult. They had a few good players but obviously communication was a big problem - between each other and the ref."

BDFC ended with a record minus six points in the division after having nine points deducted for failing to show up for three games.

A league official said: "We were told they had three players in the national deaf team, but it soon became apparent they were out of their depth.

"It is the first time I've known a side end with minus points."

The official admitted refereeing with a flag had proved unpopular among officials, saying: "Three or four did it, but it was not something that came naturally. They prefer the whistle."


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