60 years of Bundesliga

The Bundesliga's two bizarre ghost goals


When is a goal not a goal? That may seem an easy enough question, but two remarkable incidents in the Bundesliga's first 60 years left fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

The first of the infamous incidents occurred in April 1994 in a crucial end-of-season game - and Bavarian derby between Bayern Munich and Nuremberg. With Bayern battling Kaiserslautern in a tight title race, Thomas Helmer met the ball at the far post from a corner and bundled it wide of the post. To their opponents' astonishment - this was years before VAR and goal-line technology, remember - a goal was awarded.

The referee's assistant had raised his flag, which was presumed at the time to be because he had incorrectly seen the ball land in the net across a crowded penalty area.

A DFB investigation afterwards found a major breakdown of communication had actually occurred, with the assistant attempting to flag for an earlier incident and the referee assuming the assistant had seen the ball go into the net. A replay of the match was awarded, which Bayern won by five actual goals to nil on their way to winning the title.

The hole in the net at Hoffenheim versus Leverkusen in 2013 after it had been tied following Stefan Kießling's ghost goal. - imago sportfotodienst

That is a remarkable story. Surely nothing of the kind could happen in the modern era with referees wired for communication with their assistants? Think again...

A simple hole in the net was the culprit in 2013 when Hoffenheim hosted Bayer Leverkusen - that and a remarkably placed Stefan Kießling header from a corner. Kießling placing his hands to his head should have been a clue that the effort zipped wide. It did so at such a pace while somehow managing to find a hole in the side netting, and when it landed in the back of the net, few could begrudge the officials some confusion.

A goal was awarded - and the strike that never was proved to be crucial in a 2-1 win for Leverkusen. Hoffenheim protested but it was concluded that the referee gave the goal in good faith. The goalframe and the net can now be seen in a local museum.

With goal-line technology introduced in the Bundesliga in the 2015/16 season, such freak events should definitely not happen again. You just never know in football though!

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