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.
“The 70-match suspension is without precedent to our knowledge but it seems proportional given the gravity of the offence,” 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 Gundüz headbutted the referee as he was about to receive a second yellow card after 86 minutes while his team were trailing 3-2.
“The referee had to be hospitalised, his lip exploded, and the match was interrupted,” said Scherl.
“The 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,” he continued.
The 26-year-old player was also suspended by his club who were fined 257 euros ($332).
“We 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,” added Scherl.