An Austrian footballer has been handed a record 70-match ban for headbutting a referee during a fifth division match, the Tyrolean Football Federation confirmed on Thursday.
â€œThe 70-match suspension is without precedent to our knowledge but it seems proportional given the gravity of the offence,â€ said federation spokesman Horst Scherl.
The incident occurred last Saturday during a match between SK Rum and SPG Innsbruck West in the Tyrol region of western Austria.
SK Rum midfielder Ismail GundÃ¼z headbutted the referee as he was about to receive a second yellow card after 86 minutes while his team were trailing 3-2.
â€œThe referee had to be hospitalised, his lip exploded, and the match was interrupted,â€ said Scherl.
â€œThe disciplinary commission decided on a 70-match suspension, all parties, with the exception of the player, who disputes the facts, agreeing the intentional aspect of the gesture,â€ he continued.
The 26-year-old player was also suspended by his club who were fined 257 euros ($332).
â€œWe researched and the heaviest sanction that we found was 46 matches, in Bavaria. But the sanction could have been heavier: according to our statutes, a player could get up to 108 matches,â€ added Scherl.