Tobias Krull: the man who went from spectator to fourth official


It was a day and a half at the Volkswagen Arena for car dealership employee Tobias Krull, who answered a call seeking a fourth official that sounded out during Wolfsburg's game against Cologne at the weekend.

More accustomed to keeeping goal for a national league side and competing with his team MTV Gifhorn in the German district divisions, the 32-year-old Krull was thrust into the limelight in the Bundesliga on Matchday 19. 

When Cologne defender Max Finkgräfe accidentally collided with assistant referee Thorben Siewer, the offical - who took a knock to the head - was badly injured. After 15 minutes undergoing treatment, it became clear that Siewer would not be able to continue officiating in the game against Wolfsburg. Nicolas Wagner - the encounter's fourth official - stepped into the role of assistant referee. However, that meant Wagner's position was now vacant and, as there are no mandatory stiuplations in the the game's rule books for such a situation, a stadium announcement was made to search for a spectator with a referee's certificate.

With the amateur leagues in Braunschweig still enjoying a winter break, Krull had been watching Saturday's game from the stadium's VIP area and quickly realised he was the man to answer the call. No stranger to these surroundings, the Gifhorn keeper and sports director once played for Wolfsburg's junior teams and even got to play for Wolfsburg II on several occasionas. On Saturday, he swapped out of his casual attire and got kitted out in some new fourth offical threads and when he took his position, the game could continue

From spectator to fourth official: Tobias Krull heads to the changing rooms. - IMAGO/Darius Simka

“He immediately became a full member of [the officiating team],” referee Sören Storks said later. In an interesting twist, Storks himself made his Bundesliga officiating team debut as a fourth official when referee Felix Brych injured himself at half-time in a game.

Krull was immediately fully involved in conversations between the match officials on Saturday, helped to track the minutes of the game and went into the dressing-rooms after the match - which ended 1-1 - for a debriefing. Both Wolfsburg and Cologne coaches were fully satisfied with the 32-year-old's efforts. "He did very well; I hope that the DFB is generous when it comes to their expense report,” quipped Billy-Goats boss Timo Schultz in his post-match press conference. 

Assistant referee Siewer, meanwhile, was taken to hospital with suspected concussion. "He is in treatment and is doing well according to the circumstances," referee Storks explained shortly after the encounter and before he and his colleagues went to visit Siewer in hospital. 

For all concerned, but especially for Krull, Matchday 19 of this Bundesliga season will live long in the memory.