BERLIN: Hertha Berlin on Wednesday appealed against theirrelegation play-off defeat at Fortuna Duesseldorf which was marredby a double pitch invasion and left their players fearing for theirlives. Fortuna's 2-2 home draw on Tuesday saw them win the German leaguerelegation play-off 4-3 on aggregate and earn promotion to theBundesliga at Hertha's expense amidst chaotic scenes. The relegation play-off clash at Fortuna's Espirit Arena was twiceinterrupted by pitch invasions as fans fired flares onto the fieldand the German Football Federation (DFB) has launched aninvestigation. Hertha, whose players were reluctant to return to the pitch after amass invasion by fans late in stoppage time, have demanded areplay, and the DFB has set the appeal hearing for Friday. |
"For us, the game was irregular, because it was no longer justabout a competitive match," explained Hertha's lawyer ChristophSchickhardt. "The sole purpose of restarting the game was to hinder any furtherescalation of trouble. "According to the DFB statutes, a game under these circumstances isnot considered valid and has to be replayed." Hertha manager Michael Preetz has said his players' concerns fortheir personal safety had overshadowed the match. "The players were afraid, it was no longer about a sporting event,"said Preetz. "The issue of personal safety was the main concern, not the effortneeded to create a goal in the last two minutes." Fortuna reacted calmly to the news as they look forward torejoining the Bundesliga for the first time since 1997.
"We are under the impression the game was refereed properly andthat the result will stand," Duesseldorf president Peter Frymuthtold SID, an AFP subsidiary. Having won the first-leg 2-1 in Berlin, Tuesday's return leg wasbriefly halted after Fortuna took a 2-1 lead with an hour played asdozens of lit flares landed on the pitch prompting referee WolfgangStark to stop play. There was then a 20-minute delay when fans poured onto the fieldwith two minutes of stoppage time still to play as Stark againhalted the match before the remaining 90 seconds were finallyplayed out. The DFB launched an investigation earlier on Wednesday after theugly scenes were broadcast live on German television. "With dismay and concern, we have noted the incidents inDuesseldorf," wrote DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach and Germanleague (DFL) boss Rainhard Rauball in a joint statement.
"DFB and DFL agree that such irresponsible and threatening scenesin a football stadium can not be tolerated and must be punishedrigorously. "The DFB's disciplinary committee are responsible for finding theappropriate sanction, the Control Committee has already started theinvestigation." -AFP/ac.
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