Written by By Tom Ford, CNN Vienna, Austria Written by By Tom Ford, CNN Vienna, Austria
The Leipzig Falcons had a golden opportunity to return to the Bundesliga before Wednesday’s relegation clash at Eintracht Frankfurt.
But just two days before kickoff, they lost 3-0 to a ZDF-men-organized match against their arch rivals.
The referee called off the match following a court decision to lower Eintracht’s capacity.
The fact the match was called off just hours before kick-off and players were not contacted by the authorities is symptomatic of a lack of security at lower divisions, a former Leipzig assistant said after the humiliating loss.
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“The biggest problem of our league is its referees,” former coach Lothar Matthaus told German sports daily Die Welt.
“A qualified referee with 300 plus matches knows how to handle a game, rather than someone with just ten games experience. In a league this poorly organized, one game can slip through their fingers and cost you valuable points.”
Eintracht plays in the 48,000 capacity Leipzig Arena, but as late as Tuesday afternoon, the Leipzig management said they were not yet sure that the match would go ahead.
“Nobody was happy with the level of security,” club spokesperson Elke Kipper told CNN after the game.
“Perhaps a match organizer gets a bit overexcited or waves some money to the referee in order to get it to go ahead. The referee didn’t do too well, anyway, in dealing with the large numbers who wanted to enter the ground.”
The ramifications of the failed game could reach beyond Leipzig. Following the German soccer federation’s announcement to lower the limits on the capacity of games in Leipzig, rivals Hamburg said that an empty Leipzig was detrimental to the interest of the game.
Hamburg currently occupies a heated battle to avoid relegation.