October 19, 2013

Felix Brych conned by hole in the goalnet

Certain incidents only happen once in twenty years and as a referee, you very likely experience them never in your entire career. Such an incident has happened in yesterday's Bundesliga match between 1899 Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen when pre-selected World Cup referee Felix Brych became the victim of a sudden hole in the goalnet leading to a phantom goal scored by Stefan Kießling.

It was the 70th minute. A Leverkusen midfielder executed a usual corner kick into the centre of the penalty area where Kießling awaited a forceful header that reached the exterior net of Hoffenheim's goal. The ball missed the goal post by a few centimetres. Suddenly, the ball was in the goal. Germany's Referee of the Year 2013 Brych moved towards the midfield indicating "goal". Kießling first reacted in a disappointed way that his header had not reached its target but was then surrounded by his celebrating teammates. No Hoffenheim player realized the situation and easily accepted the decision. Before the kick-off - the last chance for Brych to change his decision - Kießling talked to him and, reading his lips, told him "I believe it reached the exterior net.". Brych showed no body tension, turned pale, confused and unsure but decided to blow the whistle for the kick-off. Later on, substitute players recognized what had happened and presented the hole in the net to the referee, who was totally helpless and, compliant with the circumstances and the Laws of the Game, powerless. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that Brych awarded a wrong penalty kick to the home side after that - the contact even happened outside the penalty area. Having blown the final whistle after the fifth minute of added time, the refereeing team swiftly left the field of play and seemed to exactly know what has happened. Replays have proven that AR2 Stefan Lupp had checked the goalnet before the second half, but did not control the area where the hole occurred.

Brych immediately had the guts to speak to the press - what should be respected - and declared the following in conversation with Sky Sport (record on German):

Dr. Felix Brych, thank you for coming. How did you experience the 70th minute of play?
Brych: "I had small doubts, but the players' reactions were unequivocally clear. There was not any sign that it could have been an irregular goal. And then I allowed the goal."

You had a small dialogue with Stefan Kießling at the midfield circle though. What was the content?
Brych: "In general, it was a pretty surreal situation, because I had doubts, because there was not any contra. And then I have exchanged my doubts with Stefan Kießling - I don't remember the exact words. But nobody has told me - he did not either - that it wasn't a goal. For me it is of course no nice situation either, allowing a goal which wasn't a goal."

Were not your assistant referees able to support you?
Brych: "No, the assistant on the side of the goal could not see that at all and from the midfield line there was not any advice either. From the benches, there was no sign. As said, the ball was in the goal, perhaps with doubts, but for everybody on the pitch it was a regular goal."

Until what moment you could have decided to correct your decision?
Brych: "Until the re-start of play, i.e. the kick-off."

When were you sure that it was no goal?
Brych: "I don't know that exactly, how things developed after that. Now I know it."

Without any doubt, those who are favouring the launch of video evidences in football, are on the march now being fed with new arguments. Among them, there is the former World's Best Referee Dr. Markus Merk who has been supporting this technology for a while. He told Sky Sport that such a device only deployed for such situations could make the game better and solve such problems. Furthermore, he emphasized that nobody had been at fault in Hoffenheim, neither the referees, nor the players.
And he is right. Such a mistake is human. Blackouts happen, specially in such surreal cases. Referees are no perfect robots and can fail in surreal moments. It can happen to everyone. What Brych needs now is a strong DFB and UEFA referee committee who back him in the probably most difficult part of his career. As predicted, there are many signs that indicate his appointment for Real Madrid - Juventus Turin as part of next week's UEFA Champions League matchday 3. A good performance in such a match could be the best recipe to recover from that. This naturally does not put the fact that it was a huge error under a veil.
At the same time, it is not the time for opportunists who try to use the chance to promote the, in my opinion, completely wrong video device in football. Curiosities like this one belong to football and yesterday it was one of the best European referees who was the victim of destiny.

1899 Hoffenheim have already lodged a complaint and aspire a replay match. Brych is surely the last one who would have something against it and as a lawyer by profession, he probably knows that from the legal side this might be possible.


  1. Thanks for the interview. A question about that.
    So, German referees are always allowed to talk to press after a match?

    1. The player Kieling has never heard of Fair Play. His header goes wrong, sees this too, beats up the hands and accepted the mistake of Brych, without having to do an objection. An unsporting behaviour and shame! Kiesling should be held responsible and punished. An example relating to Fair Play!

  2. They are allowed to do so, yes. The only doubt I personally had is whether a pre-selected referee is allowed to do so, too. As far as I remember, this was forbidden in 2010. Perhaps Brych even asked Fandel, Collina or Busacca via phone to do so.

    1. Here in Italy it's strictly forbidden, I was surprised for that..

    2. Common praxis. But it also depends on each individual referee. Some talk to the media, some don't, Brych is one of the more "open" referees for that (Stark too).

  3. Emil Archambault19/10/13 15:17

    As I said on a former post, I tend to blame the assistant referee for failing to properly check the net. For me, that is laziness and I find it hard to excuse. Brych, of course, cannot be blamed and did what had to be done in the circumstances.
    The only excusing circumstance would be if the ball broke the rope when coming in, which is possible (but unlikely). If that specific rope was already weakened, a direct impact could have broken it and the ball entered the goal.

  4. The problem is that this hole was potentially too small to be detected. An AR cannot and practically does not check every single rope of a large goal net...it's routine and in Bundesliga you probably expect that nets are in an okay condition (specially if the referees checked it more deeply 1,5h before the match..).

    Real Madrid v FC Barcelona will be handled by Alberto Undiano btw.

  5. For all who are interested:

    Download MEN COMPETITIONS 2012. ANÁLISIS DE SITUACIONES DE JUEGO to get FIFA's solutions for match incidents at Olympia 2012 and CWC 2012!!

  6. If you mention that the Penalty kick was not correct, please mention another big error in the first half ("Offside"-Goal Volland) in the article.

  7. The penalty kick happened after the game-changing error this article is about. The offside goal was not Brych's responsibility and has no relation to this goal.

  8. Very well Brych answering the press. At Italy and Spain and also FIFA and UEFA must make similar.

  9. That's why we need the AARs to be on the other side of the net, not with the ARs.
    Anyway, tough luck for Brych. WIsh the best for him in next couple of days.
    A little bit humor now, we have nothing to do:

    Best regards and smiles from California.

    1. Emil Archambault19/10/13 22:40

      The idea with having the AAR on the side of the AR is that they are meant to check for fouls in the area. On the opposite side, the referee should be positioned close to the action and be able to see any foul. The AAR, placed on the AR's side, cover the area furthest from the referee (and too far from the AR to be able to rely on their support most of the time).
      By the way, as this was a Bundesliga game, there was no AARs at all.

    2. The problem is that AARs had to move on the side closer to ARs because many referees were upset of changing their movement. And I would dare to say that even an AAR could have missed this situation. A situation which is that surreal and that quick...I am not sure how an AAR would have reacted.

  10. UEFA Youth League


    Austria Vien - Atletico

    Referee: Mitja Žganec (SVN)
    Assistant referees: Tomaž Klančnik (SVN) , Manuel Vidali (SVN)
    Fourth official: Philipp Aiginger (AUT)
    UEFA Delegate: Gabriel Weiss (SVK)
    UEFA Referee observer: Stefan Messner (AUT)

  11. Out of topic. I think, you should see the huge mistake of Anthony Taylor in Chelsea - Cardiff City (4-1). Brych's mistake is forgivable, this one is not in my humble opinion. It's simple not knowing the LoTG by Premier League and FIFA referee...


    1. Can't believe that he allowed a thing like this.

    2. Such mistake is inexcusable even for a referee of the lowest leagues... Maybe Mr. Taylor just turned his back waiting for the long pass from GK? Anyway, huge mistake also by the rest of the team (no one saw it?)...

    3. Is this really an error? The question then: Does goalie starts the ball, controls it?
      Releasing it, after all it is his control.

      Explain keeper Possession

    4. Emil Archambault20/10/13 15:22

      "A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball:
      • while the ball is between his hands or between his hand and any surface
      (e.g. ground, own body)
      • while holding the ball in his outstretched open hand
      • while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air"

      LOTG 2013-14, p. 122 (Interpretation Law 12).

      The GK is deliberately bouncing the ball on the ground, and therefore is still in control of it.

      Now, a quick question: this would have been an IFK, right? Would you have given a yellow too?

  12. Herbert Fandel has protected Brych (use a translator)

    1. Kiesling has never heard of Fair Play. His header goes wrong, sees this too, beats up the hands and accepted the mistake of Brych, without having to do an objection. An unsporting behaviour and shame! Kiesling should be held responsible and punished. An example relating to Fair Play!

    2. I'm not quite sure. Kießling is turning away before the ball gets through the hole, so in fact he couldn't see this moment. He only sees, that the ball is inside the goal and his collegues are running towards him to celebrate the "goal". So, what is more probably?
      A hole in the goal net in a Bundesliga-match AND Kießling's header going straight through it
      an observing error by Kießling.

      Indeed many people (like Hoffenheim's coach Gisdol oder Freiburg's coach Streich) believed in this situation that they estimated it simply wrong and that it was a regular goal until the see the tv-pics.

  13. Maybe this is the time for Schiffner to return to Brych's trio!

  14. Niclas, is there any other sites that have these video analyses, such as the one you mentioned above (http://labhipermedia.net/descargas/list-sp.html)


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