Lell denies spitting at Lukimya during Bundesliga relegation play-off

The Hertha Berlin defender has slammed the Fortuna Dusseldorf man for demanding an apology after he was accused of spitting at the Congolese stopper
Christian Lell has strenuously denied spitting at Assani Lukimya during the ugly scenes that marred the second leg of the Bundesliga relegation play-off match between Hertha Berlin and Fortuna Dusseldorf.

After a pitch invasion from Fortuna fans minutes before the final whistle, both sides were forced to leave the pitch for an lengthy period of time, before returning to the pitch for the remaining seconds without incident.

Several Hertha players were sanctioned for their part in the ensuing melee, including Lell who received a six-game ban for a combination of spitting at Lukimya and assailing Wolfgang Stark, the referee.

The former Bayern Munich defender has now taken time to refute all the allegations against his name, saying he did not spit at Lukimya and that he was merely trying to get Stark's attention.

"During the long delay, I was verbally insulted from all sides, and fans even attacked me. Lukimya came to me with several players and two coaches from Dusseldorf," he recalled to Bild.

"Lukimya pushed me away again and again, and came right up to my ear, as you can see from TV images. I eventually answered his 'kind' words with a 'kind' word, which he didn't take kindly to.

"I definitely did not spit at Lukimya! After the game, we were at the drugs tests. As we walked away, we both smiled and said: 'OK, forgive and forget.' The fact that he's now demanding an apology is outrageous!

"Yes, after the interruption, I touched Mr. Stark on the arm and said: 'You cannot end the game - it's easy to play three more minutes'.

"There are several television pictures in which I have even protected the referee."

Meanwhile, Hertha Berlin have announced that they will not dispose of Levan Kobiashvili, despite the Georgian picking up a year-long ban for his part in the fracas.

"We will not leave Kobi [Kobiashvili] to fall. He will remain with the squad, training," explained director of sport Michael Preetz.