Controversy dominates Bundesliga with Stefan Kiessling’s Phantom Goal

Since 1994 the “phantom goal” has become part of German football folklore.   Thomas Helmer’s ghost goal against Nürnberg in the 1993/94 season was strange to say the least.  In that game, a loose ball was somehow bundled into the net by Thomas Helmer and Bayern Munich ended up beating a Nürnberg side in need of a result 2-1.  Or did they?  On closer look, the ball had actually gone off target and past the post but referee Hans Joachim Osmers gave the goal anyways.

That game was eventually replayed after Nürnberg lodged an official complaint to the DFB and after considering the case they ruled the game to be contested a second time. Bayern won that match fair and square but the incident created a significant precedent for a moment that many thought would never come again but did.

Almost 20 years later the “phantom tor” resurfaced again after Friday night’s match between Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen.  This time Stefan Kiessling was at the center of the action as his header off a corner went past the post and off target but bounced back into the net from the outside via a small hole in the net.  Kiessling instantly reacted in disbelief as to how he could have missed such a chance but referee Felix Brych saw things a bit differently.

Rather than pointing to the six-yard line for a goal kick he awarded Leverkusen one of the strangest goals in Bundesliga history.  In disbelief himself, Kiessling and his teammates accepted the goal and Hoffenheim were suddenly 2-0 down.  Hoffenheim later pulled a goal back but a missed penalty on their part and the now notorious phantom goal had just about sealed the result.

Understandably dissatisfied with the happenings in the game, Hoffenheim players and officials all appealed for the game to be replayed after the final whistle.

Stefan Kiessling’s controversial Phantom Goal:

Reactions after the match

Rudi Völler admitted after the match that he had seen that the ball hadn’t crossed the line, however, he poked fun at the fact that the side netting of the goal had a hole in it, telling German broadcaster Sky:

“Hoffenheim have spent a lot of money on a nice stadium. Maybe next time they should buy some proper nets.”

Bayer coach Sami Hyypiä told the press that he hadn’t experienced anything like it since he was playing in a match without any goal nets in his days as a youth player. Furthermore, the Finn wasn’t too happy about winning due to a phantom goal:

“I didn’t see that the ball went past the wrong side of the post during the match. During the match I was celebrating the goal, because I saw the ball in the back of the net. It is, of course, a bit upsetting to win a game in such a manner. However, I can’t do anything about, because it is the officials who make the decisions at the end of the day.”

Whilst the TV pictures might suggest that Stefan Kiessling is disappointed about having missed a sitter, the phantom goal scorer himself told the press after the match that this wasn’t the case:

“I didn’t see it exactly, as I was turning away. I said that to the referee. I was really surprised it was in.”

Hoffenheim manager Alexander Rosen on the other hand side was very upset about the somewhat curious sixth goal of the season for Stefan Kiessling, explaining:

“I did see it from the stands (that it wasn’t a goal). The Leverkusen players weren’t even celebrating. This is scandalous.”

Team captain Andreas Beck was  in disbelieve after the match:

“Something like this has never happened to me before. I thought my eyes were playing with me.”

His coach Markus Gisdol was frustrated about the loss, but was hopeful that Hoffenheim’s appeal against the result would be successful:

“We have had to endure a lot so far this year. I’m still effected by the goal, which really shouldn’t have been given. This is extremely painful for us, because we did play a good match. I’m happy about our performance tonight, it is difficult to accept that the game was decided like this in the end. There has been a similar case in the past, and back then the game was repeated. I do think that we’ll see this game one more time. Everything else would be a joke. It just wouldn’t make sense to repeat a game of Bayern München and not do the same for Hoffenheim.”(Editor’s note: Gisdol is right about Bayern vs. Nürnberg being repeated back in 1994, however, it was Nürnberg who actually appealed the result of the original match.)


Stefan Kiessling's goal was a hot discussion topic on Twitter after the match.
Stefan Kiessling’s goal was a hot discussion topic on Twitter after the match.

Kiessling’s goal inspired a massive discussion on social media sites. The words Kiessling, Bayer Leverkusen and Bundesliga were trending in Germany after the match. Furthermore, the comment section on the striker’s Facebook page received an inordinate amount of comments complaining about the striker’s behaviour after his goal.

What is your take on this? Should the match be repeated? Leave a comment below.

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari

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