FRANKFURT: Stefan Kiessling can keep his phantom goal: a German sports court has ruled that his header through the side of the net in Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-1 Bundesliga win over Hoffenheim nine days ago should stand.

The German federation’s supreme court ruled that FIFA referee Felix Brych made a mistake but only to the extent that all match officials are liable to make incorrect decisions through an accident of positioning.

Hoffenheim have said the club will study the written judgment rejectined their appeal for the match to be replayed. The club had pointed to a precedent in 1994 when a match between Bayern Munich and Nurnberg was replayed after a similar false goal incident.

Kiessling’s 70th-minute header flew just wide of the post and hit the side netting but went through a hole and ended up in the goal.

Referee Felix Brych awarded a goal after consulting his assistants, putting Leverkusen 2-0 ahead at the time and triggering an outcry over the blatant mistake and the need for goalline technology in Germany, a tool already in use in other domestic and international competitions.

Judge Hans Lorenz said: “The decision may be unsatisfactory from a sporting point of view but it is according to the rules and laws. Referee Felix Brych took an incontestable factual decision. The claim that he broke rules was dropped by Hoffenheim even during the process.”

Lorenz, who said goalline technology could have been a help in this case as it has for ice hockey, said mistakes did happen but there was no violation of rules.

“The factual decision may have been wrong but it was irrefutable. Wrong factual decisions are part of the system.”

Lorenz heard evidence from Brych and Kiessling as well as the assistants and two Hoffenheim groundsmen.

Kiessling has denied dishonestly claiming a goal. TV evidence showed that initially he held his head in his hands in a belief that he had headed wide.

Anton Reiner, head of the control commission of the DFB, said the decision was correct and was in line with FIFA rulings in similar circumstances in the past. The decision of the referee on the pitch was final save in a limited number of disciplinary cases.