Germany has a pretty cool tradition in which it opens its soccer season not with Bundesliga action, but with the country’s cup competition, the DFB-Pokal. The tournament gives lower division teams a chance to shine and really shows off the sport throughout the country, rather in the top flight.
Every Bundesliga team plays away, so smaller clubs begin the year hosting, showing off their charming grounds while trying to pull off giant upsets in front of a nation starving for soccer after a long offseason.
But this year the first round of the DFB-Pokal turned frightening.
The chaos started on Sunday when the Hertha Berlin team bus was shot at in Bielefeld, which is in northwest Germany. Thankfully, the players weren’t on the bus and no one was hurt, but the driver certainly had a healthy scare.
According to the club, a motorcyclist threatened the bus driver “with his fist” before pulling out a gun and shooting the bus. The shot put a hole in the windshield, but missed the driver.
There is no word yet on why the bus was shot at or if it had anything to do with Hertha Berlin. Arminia Bielefeld, Hertha’s second division opponent that emerged from Monday’s contest with a 2-0 victory, tweeted, “”We are shocked by the attack on the team bus from HerthaBSC.”
A bus being shot at was more than enough, but things continued to be scary on Monday when second division Red Bull Leipzig met third division VfL Osnabruck. The match was abandoned in the 71st minute when the referee was hit by a lighter thrown from the crowd, leaving both teams to wonder what would happen to the contest.
Osnabruck were up 1-0 when Leipzig’s Davie Selke started yelling at the Osnabruck bench. The referee came over to calm things down and separate the sides when a lighter came flying from the Osnabruck area of the stands and hit him in the head. The match was later called off.
The Germany Football Association will now have to sort things out. It can award Osnabruck the win, something the club’s fans thought had already been done when they left the stadium chanting “victory,” or it can opt to resume the match from the point it was terminated. It’s also possible that it declares Leipzig the winner because Osnabruck couldn’t handle the crowd. It will also almost certainly hand down punishments to Osnabruck if it finds one of its fans threw the lighter, and it may do so regardless for failing to provide a safe playing environment.
Luckily, the referee did not suffer any extremely serious injuries.
The DFB-Pokal did have some great moments this weekend, welcoming back German soccer with some excellent play, some penalty kicks, and even a shocking upset as fourth division FC Carl Zeiss Jena beat Bundesliga side Hamburg SV. It’s not as if the competition itself is inherently tainted, but it’s unfortunate that what should have been a weekend celebrating the sport’s return in one of the world’s biggest soccer countries turned sour with nonsense.