Austrian player handed 70-game ban for headbutting referee

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An Austrian soccer player has been handed a 70-game ban after he headbutted a referee. Yep, you read that right.

Ismail Gunduz of amateur side SK Rum was shown a second-yellow card by the referee in the 87th minute of a match against SPG Innsbruck West and reacted angrily. Very angrily.

Gunduz claims he slipped… and insists he will fight to clear his name and play again.

His coach Michael Messner had the following to say to a local paper about Gunduz’s lengthy ban.

“We distance ourselves from Ismail Gunduz’s behaviour,” Messner said. “He was thrown out of the club with immediate effect.”

The ban was dished out by the Tirol FA as the game took place in the fourth tier of Austrian soccer, named the Tirol Liga. The BBC spoke to Tirol FA spokesman Horst Scherl who said the ban could have been up to 78 games. “The barrier of 70 games is certainly a high punishment, but on account of the various witnesses’ questionings also defensible.”

Gunduz’s actions has mad news around the globe as it evokes memories of Zinedine Zidane and other famous headbutting incidents across the sport. Although, headbutting a referee… that’s a new one.

With a referee in Michigan recently passing away after being attacked by a player on the field, plus a Brazilian player being banned for shoving a ref, the worry over officials not being properly respected and protected on the pitch continues.