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Soccer-Kiessling apologises for scoring "phantom goal"

Reuters

(Updates with reaction from the German federation)

Oct 19 (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen forward Stefan Kiessling has apologised for his goal against Hoffenheim on Friday after television pictures clearly showed that the ball had entered the net through a hole in the side.

The German federation (DFB) confirmed that Hoffenheim had lodged a protest and said it would contact FIFA before deciding whether or not to order a replay.

"I can fully understand the reactions from many of you and I myself am absolutely gutted," Kiessling said on his Facebook page after his so-called phantom goal helped his team to get a 2-1 win.

"After seeing the replays on television, I can clearly see that it was not a legitimate goal.

"During the game, after heading the ball and turning my head, I did not exactly see whether the ball had gone into the goal or not. Somehow, the ball was lying in the goal and I said exactly that to the referee.

"I'm sorry for all sports fans... Naturally, it's not nice to win like that. Fairness is important in sport, for us in the club and for me personally."

The confusion arose when Kiessling's 70th-minute header flew just wide of the post, hit the side-netting and ended up in the back of the net to put Leverkusen 2-0 ahead.

He initially put his hands on his head when the ball went wide and looked confused when the referee awarded the goal and his team mates ran to him to celebrate.

The Bundesliga does not use goal-line technology, which a FIFA source said would have spotted the mistake, or the additional goal-line assistants who are used in European club competitions.

A replay was ordered after Bayern Munich were awarded a goal against Nuremberg in similar circumstances in 1994.

The DFB confirmed in a statement that Hoffenheim had lodged a protest and said that its tribunal would speak to Bayer Leverkusen and will take statements from referee Felix Brych, the clubs and the match delegates.

Amid calls for the match to be replayed, led by Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol, the DBF said it would also contact FIFA to clarify its legal position on how to deal with such cases.

"We can all absolutely understand that such as phantom goal is considered unjust," said Rainer Koch, the DFB vice-president for legal affairs.

"It's understandable that there is a call for a replay of the match but we very much know from the past how FIFA protects the decisions of the referees." (Reporting by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar)

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