Leverkusen-Borussia Dortmund game suspended over Schmidt dismissal
The Bundesliga clash between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund came to an extraordinary halt after Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt refused to leave the field.
The match was suspended after 65 minutes following a controversial Dortmund goal that gave them a 1-0 lead at the BayArena.
An innocuous challenge involving Stefan Kiessling and Sven Bender in midfield had ramifications far beyond the initial awarding of a free kick to Dortmund.
They took it quickly with Erik Durm bursting clear and squaring for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to put the visitors in front -- much to the anger of the home team, who felt they should have been given the free kick in the first place. Dortmund ultimately held on for a 1-0 victory.
Kiessling led Leverkusen protests and Schmidt was then ordered to leave the dugout. He refused, and in response, referee Felix Zwayer took the players off the pitch.
Leverkusen's official Twitter account posted: "The match is paused at the 65th minute after Roger Schmidt refuses to be sent off the pitch and the referees leave instead."
Dortmund were clearly perplexed by the decision, judging by their Twitter post as both sets of players returned to the dressing room:
??? #b04bvb 0-1- Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) February 21, 2016
After talks, the teams re-emerged without Schmidt and the match resumed around eight minutes after the impromptu break started.
"To suspend the game and be so hectic about everything was totally unnecessary," Leverkusen's director of sport Rudi Voller angrily told Sky Sport after the match.
"Making out that something really terrible had happened was totally over the top.
"Clearly the referee felt he had to make things a bit more exciting. You can send a coach off, but the referee could have been sensible about explaining to him why, but he didn't do that."
Schmidt could be seen telling the referee to come over to him and tell him why he was sending him to the stands, but Zwayer instead told Kiessling to pass on the message.
"I'm not very good at interpreting gestures," Schmidt said. "I would have liked to have known why he wanted to send me to the stands.
"I tried to find that out and speak to him, but it wasn't happening. I just wanted a reason."
Former Bundesliga referee Peter Gagelmann defended Zwayer's actions, however, explaining how he had only followed the rulebook.
"The first person the referee talks to is the captain," Gagelmann said. "It is he who should pass on the message when a coach is sent to the stands."
Since Schmidt chose to ignore that message, Zwayer was perfectly within his rights suspending the game, and the coach admits maybe it would have been wiser just to accept the punishment.
"It was maybe a bit stubborn of me, but when the referee wants to send a coach to the stands, it's not really very helpful," he said.
"Maybe it was wrong of me and I'm sorry. I am in a position where people look up to me and I did not do that justice.
"But in all the hectic emotion, you sometimes do get carried away."
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel showed understanding, saying he could "relate" with Schmidt, but adding he "took things too far this time."