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Oct 29, 2013

Hoffenheim: No 'ghost goal' appeal

Hoffenheim have said they will not appeal against the German Football Association (DFB) sports court's decision not to allow a replay of the 'ghost goal' game against Bayer Leverkusen.

On Monday, the sports court said the result of the match -- which Leverkusen won 2-1 when a Stefan Kiessling header that went wide crept into the goal through a hole in the side-netting -- would stand.

On Tuesday, Hoffenheim announced that they would not be lodging an appeal, saying the club had made the decision "following an extensive review of the case."

"This decision does not change the fact that we believe the court verdict is a wrong signal for football altogether," CEO Peter Rettig said. "In spite of that, we will accept the verdict because we don't want to become obsessed by this pretty obviously hopeless case."

Sports court judge Hans E Lorenz argued that, while the decision "might not be satisfying in sporting aspects", the verdict abided by FIFA rules which state that a referee's decision cannot be overturned once play has restarted. "It was an indisputable factual decision by referee Dr Felix Brych," he said.

Hoffenheim had been given a week to decide whether to appeal against the verdict, and director of football Alexander Rosen pledged that they would "calmly look at the reasons behind the verdict."

DFB vice-president Rainer Koch had earlier indicated that FIFA would not allow a replay, and Rosen acknowledged that, while the club were "obviously disappointed" by the DFB decision on Monday, there had been "signs it would end up this way."

Anton Nachreiner, the chairman of the DFB control board, argued that previous verdicts meant Hoffenheim had no prospect of success.

FIFA tightened its rules after the DFB granted a replay of a 1994 meeting between Bayern Munich and Nurnberg as a result of a Thomas Helmer 'ghost goal'.

Hoffenheim lawyer Markus Schuetz, though, argued that the refusal to grant a replay to the club threatened to undermine football. "Does German football really want Bundesliga matches to be decided by such goals? This is about more than just a wrong factual decision," he said.

"This goal could have far-reaching consequences beyond this season. By approving this goal, football is reduced to absurdity."

"Only losers, everywhere," German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung headlined on Tuesday. "No one will like the verdict -- not the fans, nor the DFB, nor the clubs concerned. And not even the court," it said.

"The DFB is staying within the limits of the FIFA. FIFA makes the rules. And the referee's decision is considered sacred at FIFA, despite being constantly reminded to change the statutes (which are no longer at pace with the times)."

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, though a supporter of goal-line technology, is opposed to the use of video evidence or having a 'chief referee' to review decisions. The paper added: "A goal that counts, despite not being one -- you cannot illustrate the absurdity of the current system more strikingly."

The German Football League (DFL) has already said it will not sanction the use of goal-line technology due to the standard of the available systems, with general manager Andreas Rettig saying: "The 3cm margin of error allowed by FIFA is not acceptable for us."

But in April, FIFA will reduce the margin to 1.5cm, and DFL president Reinhard Rauball said: "We have received a lot of criticism because we refused to use goal-line technology", adding that the change to a 1.5cm margin of error "would also have been our proposal."

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