Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich played out one of the most bizarre conclusions in the history of football as they passed the ball between each other for 13 minutes after a long delay for an offensive banner in the crowd.
Bayern were 6-0 up when their travelling fans unfurled an offensive banner about Hoffenheim president Dietmar Hopp.
Coach Hansi Flick and most of the players pleaded – angrily in some cases – with the fans to put it away. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and board member Oliver Kahn – both former players – also attempted to talk to the ultras.
Referee Christian Dingert eventually took the players down the tunnel and the game was suspended for about 20 minutes.
The match eventually restarted from 77 minutes, with fans told it would be abandoned if the banner appeared again. Bayern’s and Hoffenheim’s players then just kicked the ball between themselves – with goalkeepers not in their goals – to get the game to its conclusion.
At the final whistle, 79-year-old Hopp, Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and the players stood on the pitch and applauded Hoffenheim fans in a show of solidarity.
region and for us. We’re sad and we feel very sorry for him. The behaviour of the two teams was very good. It’s embarrassing when something like that happens. We’re not talking about thousands of fans, just a couple. What Dietmar Hopp has done with his career is special. Nobody deserves that.”
Hoffenheim captain Benjamin Hubner: “I think the referee reacted correctly. He stopped the game initially before taking us into the changing room. I hope we made a statement today. That’s what football should do – it connects people. I think it was a historic game. We should all build on that.”
The game looked to be noteworthy for a different reason before the late drama because, if the result stands, it will be Hoffenheim’s biggest home defeat in the Bundesliga.
League leaders Bayern followed their impressive 3-0 Champions League win at Chelsea up with a rapid start – without star striker Robert Lewandowski who is out injured for four weeks.
Serge Gnabry volleyed home a Thomas Muller cross before Joshua Kimmich doubled their lead. Teenager striker Joshua Zirkzee slotted home from six yards out – his fourth goal in four Bundesliga games.
Philippe Coutinho scored twice before Leon Goretzka added a sixth. But those goals will just be a footnote on this game – even if the result is allowed to stand.