Football

No sanctions for Hertha Berlin despite kissing and hugging

Hertha Berlin's players won't be punished for hugging and kissing as they enjoyed a much-needed victory when German football resumed last Saturday, the Bundesliga confirmed after the match.

In order to obtain the political green light to resume over the weekend, the Bundesliga agreed strict rules to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Yet, while players in other games celebrated with elbow taps or solo dance routines, Hertha's players hugged and kissed as they won 3-0 in Hoffenheim.

Hertha started the game 13th in the table with only seven wins in 25 games and under a new coach.

Their Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata kissed team-mate Marko Grujic on the cheek after their team's first goal.

"The fact is that this is part of football," said Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia, who replaced Juergen Klinsmann during the lockdown.

"We've been tested so many times that we can allow it.

"If you can't celebrate any more, the whole thing breaks down. I'm just glad that the team had reason to cheer today. Emotions are part of the game."

The German Football League (DFL) had presented the German authorities with a 51-page document, which convinced the federal government and regions that football could be allowed to resume behind closed doors.

In an accompanying document sent to clubs, the DFL said hugging and hand contact in celebration of goals should be avoided and that preference should be given to "elbow or foot contact".

But on Saturday, a DFL spokesman confirmed there would be no punishment for Hertha, as it had offered only "guidelines" on how goals should be celebrated.

"For celebrations, only advice has been given and therefore there can be no sanctions," said the spokesman.

As part of its programme to ensure a safe return, the DFL has tested players and coaches regularly for the virus and teams have been quarantined for the past week.

Meanwhile, players and officials are still adjusting to the new normal - playing without spectators.

Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said after their 4-0 win over Schalke: "There was no noise. You shoot at the goal, make a top pass, score a goal, and nothing happens.

"That's very, very strange. We really missed our fans. It's hard to judge how good the game was, but the players were very focused." - REUTERS, AFP

Football