'Phantom goal' game will not be replayed, says German court
BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen's 2-1 Bundesliga win over Hoffenheim last week helped by a phantom goal will not be replayed despite the ball going in through a hole in the netting, Germany's sports court said on Monday.
In a decision which the court admitted may not be satisfactory to fans, the Hoffenheim appeal was rejected because there was at no point a violation of the rules by the referee.
Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling's 70th-minute header flew just wide of the post and hit the side netting but went through a hole and ended up in the goal.
Referee Felix Brych awarded a goal after consulting his assistants, putting Leverkusen 2-0 ahead at the time and triggering an outcry over the blatant mistake and the need for goalline technology in Germany, a tool already in use in other domestic and international competitions.
"The decision may be unsatisfactory from a sporting point of view but it is according to the rules and laws," judge Hans Lorenz, who heads the German football association's (DFB) sports court told reporters in Frankfurt.
"Referee Felix Brych took an incontestable factual decision. The claim that he broke rules was dropped by Hoffenheim even during the process."
Lorenz, who said goalline technology could have been a help in this case as it has for ice hockey, said mistakes did happen but there was no violation of rules.
"The factual decision may have been wrong but it was irrefutable. Wrong factual decisions are part of the system."
Lorenz had earlier heard testimony from Brych and Kiessling as well as the assistants and two Hoffenheim groundsmen. He had also greeted last season's Bundesliga top scorer with a humorous comment.
"Finally you get a call-up from the DFB," Lorenz had told Kiessling, who has been consistently overlooked by Germany coach Joachim Loew despite superb performances for Leverkusen in the past few seasons.
Kiessling had been accused by fans of seeing the ball go in from the side and not telling the referee, a claim which the striker vehemently denied.
"I said exactly how things happened and what I had told referee Bruch at the time," Kiessling told reporters. "I am now just happy to focus back on my football."
Hoffenheim have the right to appeal court's decision within one week.
"We are disappointed with the verdict," said Alexander Rosen, Hoffenheim's sports director. "We will now carefully examine it and take a decision based on that." (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)
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