Bundesliga referee Patrick Ittrich, who works full-time for the police, described the cancellation of the third division game between FSV Zwickau and Rot-Weiss Essen after an attack on the referee as the only alternative. “It’s unbelievable how we referees are treated,” wrote the 44-year-old on Twitter for a short video. It shows how Ittrich’s colleague Nicolas Winter from Hagenbach got beer poured in the face by a spectator on Sunday. The former referee Thorsten Kinhöfer also described it as “completely correct” that the game was not started again. “It is an assault against the referee team. There can be no two opinions. The game is also counted 100 percent for Essen,” he told the “Bild” newspaper.
The incident happened on the way to the dressing room after the first half. Winter didn’t return to the field after the break, he stopped the game. There should not have been any consultation with those responsible for the clubs. “I’m speechless!” Ittrich continued and added: “Hopefully this fan will be punished with full force. Don’t you think about what that does to a person?!” Ittrich commented after a few reactions: “The way aggression against people, verbal and physical violence is played down here is disgusting!”
That will have consequences, emphasized Zwickau’s board spokesman Frank Fischer at MDR. He announced legal action against the viewer. “Protection of life and limb is the top priority. Nobody has to throw a cup here,” said Fischer. With a view to the canceled game, he pleaded for a repetition. “It’s out of our hands. We don’t need a point deduction or a financial penalty,” he said.
The police have since identified the suspect. This was announced by the Saxony police. The police said the man, who, according to Fischer, is said to be a sponsor of the club, is now being investigated for bodily harm. The club also announced consequences against the man. In a scuffle that followed the situation, an Essen player was also attacked, the police said. Here, too, the police identified the suspect and filed a complaint for bodily harm.
“We would have liked to have continued playing”
The referee will prepare a special report, and the sports court of the German Football Association (DFB) will have to decide on the rating of the match. In the relegation battle, Winter had shown the red card in the 45th minute from Zwickau’s Nils Butzen after a foul on Isaiah Young, which he interpreted as an emergency brake. Johann Gomez got the free kick in the penalty area on his arm, Winter decided on a penalty. This was converted by Simon Engelmann (45+3). Dominic Baumann (36th) had previously given the hosts the lead.
The fans then threw objects towards the field. Guest trainer Christoph Dabrowski was also caught by a beer shower. “We will take legal action on Monday,” announced Fischer. RWE regretted the cancellation. “We had the momentum on our side after being sent off and then equalizing,” said Essen’s sporting director Christian Flüthmann: “That’s why we would have liked to have continued playing and ensured a sporting outcome to the game.”
In the best case scenario, Zwickau is hoping for a replay. After all, the Saxons, second to bottom in the table, are deep in the relegation battle. According to Fischer, if the match were rescheduled, you would at least have “the chance of winning this fundamentally important game”. You can always discuss decisions, said Fischer. However, there are rules that must be observed. He announced preventive measures. “Even if you can’t completely rule out everything when it comes to emotions in sport, but we have to do our part to ensure that such incidents cannot be the rule,” said Fischer.
On Sunday evening there was also an official statement from those responsible for the FSV. “The incident is incompatible with the values of FSV Zwickau. Throughout the season we have shown what wonderful fans we have. This is the act of an individual. We are appalled and saddened by this,” the press release said. The club will work together with the relevant security authorities to examine all possible sanctions.
“This also applies to the safety concept, which will be part of the analysis. For this consideration, it is necessary to include all evidence so that a clear assessment of what happened and the facts can be made, from which the decision can then be derived in the spirit of fair play. We will also evaluate the decision-making process to abandon the game together with the German Football Association,” the statement said.