Imagine watching a low-scoring football game that’s tied late in the fourth quarter when one team misses a field goal that’s called good, and the other makes one that’s called no-good — only to lose by a field goal.
That’s what fans of a German soccer match between Hoffenheim and Leverkusen got to experience Friday.
Leading 1-0 in the 70th minute, Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling’s header grazed the side of the net before striking a wall behind the goal, and bouncing through a hole in the net and out the front of the goal.
Referee Felix Brych allowed the goal, giving Leverkusen a 2-0 lead. Leverkusen eventually won 2-1. Brych earlier disallowed a Hoffenheim goal that was clearly onside, according to the Associated Press, and incorrectly awarded a penalty kick that was missed.
Brych said he “had a slight doubt,” about the validity of the “ghost goal,” but the players’ reactions led him to believe it was a legitimate goal. The Associated Press said Brych “ignored pleas from Hoffenheim players, who also appeared to be taken by surprise,” and that players showed Brych the hole in the net, but the referee “shrugged and stood by his decision.”
After the game, however, even Leverkusen managing director Rudi Voeller said it was “definitely” not a goal. Hoffenheim coach Markus Gistdol said he expects the game to be replayed, and “anything else would be a joke.”
It looks like Bundesliga officials might need to take some crisis-management notes from how the NBA dealt with Tim Donaghy, the referee who bet on games he officiated then made calls affecting the point spread.