The warmth of the pre-game handshakes flared into an icy-hot sizzle by the end of Der Klassiker. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund combined for nine yellow cards — two of them awarded to the same player, second-half substitute Bayern winger Kingsley Coman. And it was the one potential yellow not given that loomed largest.
Proceedings just about got out of control on the day for referee Deniz Aytekin, who made a huge first-half call after BVB midfielder Jude Bellingham thumped his boot right into the face of Bayern left-back Alphonso Davies.
Davies was left crumpled in a heap, visibly disoriented and appearing to have taken a shot to or around his eye. Bellingham — then already on a lightly-given yellow — escaped with a caution.
After the game, the referee Aytekin explained he had the weight of the game in mind when making the call. Via @iMiaSanMia:
Deniz Aytekin explains his decision not to send Bellingham off, saying the first yellow card was a ‘possible yellow’ – so in the second situation ‘Davies came in with his head down, there was contact, but I lacked the ultimate conviction to give a second yellow & decide the game’
Aytekin adds that ‘he can understand’ anyone who has a different opinion on the decision, but ‘that’s football’
Thus it was a make-up decision for a prior yellow too lightly given. The next day, Aytekin expanded on his comments with an appeal to empathy for the player who committed the offense. For Sport1, via @iMiaSanMia:
Aytekin: “And then, as a referee, you tend to think: don’t I still have a certain amount of leeway that I can use? I understand every Bayern fan who says in isolation: That’s a yellow. But this empathy as a referee is always required of us – maybe it was a bit too much empathy” pic.twitter.com/CiNIoTMLFT
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) October 9, 2022
Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn shot back on Twitter:
Wo war denn die Empathie von Dennis Aytekin bei der gelb-roten Karte für Kingsley Coman? #DoPa
— Oliver Kahn (@OliverKahn) October 9, 2022
Where was Dennis[sic] Aytekin’s empathy with the yellow and red card for Kingsley Coman? #DoPa
For his part, Bellingham conveyed his apologies for the incident to the Bayern staff, and Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer deflected any views of ill intent as well. Davies was transported to the hospital for concussion evaluation during the game, and Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann stated simply: “The rules are clear.”