Hertha player gets record ban for attacking referee

Hertha Berlin player Levan Kobiashvili has been banned for seven-and-a-half months for attacking a referee – the most severe punishment for an act of violence in Bundesliga history.

Hertha player gets record ban for attacking referee
Photo: DPA

Georgian defender Kobiashvili, 34, punched referee Wolfgang Stark at the end of last month’s controversial play-off with Fortuna Düsseldorf.

The Berlin side were relegated to the second Bundesliga division after a 2-2 draw in a chaotic second-leg match, which was stopped when Düsseldorf fans stormed the pitch, then restarted barely 20 minutes later.

After the game, a group of furious Hertha players confronted the experienced referee in his changing-room, where the incident with Kobiashvili occurred.

Kobiashvili admitted the charge before the German Football Association (DFB) tribunal, Bild newspaper reported on Monday, having previously protested his innocence. The court heard that Stark was left with a bruised neck, and was only saved from a fall of “five or six metres” by a set of bannisters.

The DFB had sought a ban of a year, but delivering the verdict, tribunal chairman Hans Lorenz explained that the punishment “took into account [Kobiashvili’s] confession, which could also have an impact on criminal or potential civil proceedings.”

The sentence is still the harshest ever handed down in the Bundesliga. Former West Germany striker Timo Konietzka was banned for six months during the 1960s for a similar offence.

Former Freiburg and Schalke star Kobiashvili holds the record for the most appearances by a foreign player in Germany’s top flight, with 336. The left-back, who has also made 100 international appearances, was described by outspoken Hertha coach Otto Rehhagel as “the fairest player since the Second World War.”

Kobiashvili will be joined on the sidelines by teammates Thomas Kraft and Andre Mijatovic, who received four- and three-game bans respectively for their part in the violence against Stark.

A judgment in the case against Christian Lell, who as well as attacking Stark is accused of spitting at Düsseldorf’s Assani Lukimya-Mulongoti, is expected later this week.

The loss of the veteran defender will be keenly felt as Hertha attempt to return to the Bundesliga at the first attempt. Last week, team manager Michael Preetz told the club’s general meeting that the Georgian would be a “pillar” of the upcoming campaign, to a chorus of boos and jeers.

The suspension is backdated from the date of the offence, meaning that Kobiashvili will become eligible to play again on December 31. The club have a right to appeal the sanction.

The club could also find itself hauled before the Court of Arbitration due to the scandalous scenes that followed the play-off. The Blau-Weissen are expected to be informed by the DFB of a decision on this score around mid-June.

Meanwhile, play-off victors Fortuna Düsseldorf will be without their captain Andreas Lambertz for the start of their Bundesliga season, after he decided not to appeal a two-game ban for holding a flare during the on-pitch celebrations that followed his side’s dramatic victory last month.

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British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.