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Friday, March 31, 2023

Opening game: Referee Lechner apologized

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The wrong penalty finally made the difference.
Image: Hörmandinger
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At the opening of the new stadium on Friday, the referee awarded the people of Linz a penalty that wasn’t one. Marin Ljubicic scored in the 94th minute to make it 1-0, the Lustenauer foamed – for which Lechner understood, as he confessed to the “Vorarlberger Nachrichten” and “Sky”.

Lechner himself “eaten up”

“I’m really pissed off. Because it was a really great game up to the 90th minute and everything that concerned me as a referee ran like clockwork. But then this scene happened – which I wrongly judged and decided,” said Lechner.

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The 40-year-old referee had mistakenly noticed a foul by Cem Türkmen on Florian Flecker, and there was no correction from his VAR colleague Christian-Petru Ciochirca. “For me it was a trip, a leg offense. After a few seconds, he confirmed this perception,” explained Lechner. He wished Ciochirca had sent him to the screen. But he doesn’t blame his colleague. “We failed as a team.”

Telephone apology

The referee has already apologized to Lustenau coach Markus Mader over the phone. On Saturday night he “didn’t close his eyes,” said Lechner. “That scene was on my mind and I’m sure it will be for the next few days.”

Referees in Austria are still automatically rated worse if they watch a scene again on TV (on-field review), the now TV expert Marc Janko stated after consultation with Lechner and Ciochirca. This circumstance plays no role for him at all, Lechner emphasized. “The VAR is there for the teams and not for our grading or whatever. The VAR should contribute to more fairness, that’s what he does. Of course he also has gaps.” However, there is potential for improvement in this regard all over the world.

Lechner will probably not go to the screen himself in the future. “I had a perception, was clearly convinced of it, made a quick decision, also had a good position and that’s why I wouldn’t have had the idea at that moment. Basically, I trust my colleague.” Austria’s multiple referee of the year said about the non-extended stoppage time despite the goal: “It’s all stressful, maybe it went under. That’s part of it, but unfortunately that’s how it happened.”

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