Hertha Berlin Appeal Relegation, Referee Wolfgang Stark Says Levan Kobiashvili Punched Him

Hertha Berlin have appealed their relegation to the 2.Bundesliga after the chaos-filled relegation playoff against Fortuna Düsseldorf. The DFB sports court in Frankfurt heard the case, and judge Hans E. Lorenz has postponed the decision until Monday, May 21. Hertha's argument is that the match should be awarded to them or replayed.

The match was delayed for 21 minutes with just over one minute remaining in stoppage time when the Düsseldorf supporters stormed the pitch. The referees and the players left the pitch and returned once the police had cleared the pitch of the supporters. The match was resumed, and referee Wolfgang Stark signaled for the end of the match after an additional 93 seconds. Hertha sporting director Michael Preetz told the media the next day that, "After analyzing the situation we have reached the conclusion that fair sport under the circumstances was no longer possible."

When the decision is handed down, both sides will have the ability to appeal to the DFB Federal Court.

The real shocker in all of this was the testimony of referee Wolfgang Stark. The experience FIFA referee told the court that Hertha defender Levan Kobiashvili punched him in the back of the head after the match as they were heading to the locker rooms. He then advised the court that Kobiashvili, Christian Lell, Thomas Kraft and Andre Mijatovic were hurling insults and profanity at the referees. The court heard these allegations and will address them later in the week.

Kobiashvili could face a very lengthy ban for striking a referee. Just two weeks ago, Granada's Dani Benitez in Spain's La Liga was handed a three month ban for throwing a water bottle at a referee and striking him in the face. Benitez will not be available for selection until November.

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