FC Schalke 04 release statement on the VAR incident in Bremen

The day after the tough 1-1 draw in Bremen, FC Schalke 04 have completed their review of the closing minutes of the game. The club have come to the conclusion that it will not lodge an official complaint. After a thorough legal review, the Royal Blues have decided to not pursue a legal challenge of the decision, due to the slim chances of it being successful.


Instead, S04 questioned the practical application of the video assistant referee (VAR) on Sunday. During a private discussion with the DFB, the initial view of the coaches, staff and players on Saturday evening was confirmed: referee Tobias Stieler was correct in his initial decision to not award a foul for Henning Matriciani’s challenge on Roger Assalé inside the penalty box. Therefore, no clear and obvious error had been committed on the part of the referee, meaning that VAR should not have been used to overturn the decision. In fact, Stieler should never have even been sent over to review the scene himself on the pitch-side monitor.

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the sporting head of the DFB’s professional referees confirmed that the images shown on TV provided no grounds for the initial decision to not award a penalty to be overturned. According to the DFB: “VAR should not have intervened in this situation,” adding that “detailed detective work cannot be considered evidence.” In other words: when no foul has been committed, then VAR should not and must not go out of its way to find one.

We cannot make the game more complicated.

Peter Knäbel

Peter Knäbel, board member for sport, summed up the weekend: “This does nothing to change the result, and the fact that we only took one point instead of all three. However, we are convinced that this weekend, during which we saw other questionable VAR decisions in other games, must be used to draw important conclusions for football. One key conclusion is that we cannot make the game more complicated; it needs to remain understandable and the way in which the rules are applied need to remain clear for fans and those watching. That wasn’t the case this weekend. We assume that the DFB and its referees will analyse these games in detail.”

Of equal importance to the Royal Blues is a clear stance against several incidents on social media following the game, in which Bremen’s Roger Assalé was racially abused. FC Schalke 04 strongly condemns this behaviour and reiterates that tolerance and mutual respect are more important than what happens on the pitch.

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