A soccer tribunal has dismissed Bundesliga club Hoffenheim's appeal for a replay of their game against Bayer Leverkusen. The match was won with a technically invalid "phantom goal" that went through the side netting.
The German Football Federation (DFB) tribunal on Monday rejected Hoffenheim's appeal for the replay, stating that the referee's decision should be final.
Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling was awarded a goal in the October 18 match when his header broke through the side netting, with the ball appearing in the back of the net. Match official Felix Brych awarded the goal after consulting with his assistants. It put Leverkusen 2-0 up in the game against Hoffenheim on October 18, with Kiessling's side eventually winning 2-1.
The decision triggered a formal protest from Hoffenheim that Brych had committed a rule violation, a complaint dismissed by the tribunal.
"There are no grounds for the appeal," said judge Hans Lorenz. "The factual decision may have been incorrect, but it is incontestable. That is how the system works."
"The decision may not have been satisfactory from a sporting point of view, but it is according to the rules and laws."
Bitter pill for Hoffenheim fans
Kiessling has been accused by opposition fans of seeing the ball enter through the side-netting, but keeping quiet about it. The player told the sports court that he had seen the ball flying towards the side-netting, before his view was obstructed. He then saw that the ball was in the net.
Brych said he had talked to his assistants, with one of them nodding to confirm the 2-0 scoreline should stand.
The referee said he had also spoken to Kiessling, who could not confirm he had missed. Brych gave a similar explanation to the player about what he saw. "I thought the ball was going wide. I lost sight of it because my view was obstructed. Then I saw the ball lie in the goal."
Hoffenheim's sporting director Markus Rosen said the club would consider an appeal to a higher DFB tribunal. "We are looking into it," he said. "For now, we are incredibly disappointed."
In addition to the question of a replay, the refereeing mistake has sparked a debate about the use of goal-line technology to pick up instances where the ball does not cross the line. Judge Lorenz used the occasion to give his opinion.
"Such cases would be avoidable if we could bring ourselves to use goal-line technology," said Lorenz. "But this is something that is coming and I'm in favor. Football is very good in so many ways, but not in everything. Other similar forms of sport are further ahead," said Lorenz, citing field hockey as an example.
The Bundesliga does not use goal-line technology, which a FIFA source said would have highlighted the error. Nor does it use the extra goal-line assistants that UEFA uses in European club matches.
rc/ph (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)