Vincenzo Grifo has won the the inaugural Fair Play of the Season Award, presented by Milka, celebrating the 2021/22 Bundesliga’s best moments of sportsmanship.
The referee had a decision to make when Grifo went to ground in the Eintracht Frankfurt penalty area on Matchday 4. Freiburg’s talisman made it for him, getting straight to his feet and explaining that there was nothing in Timothy Chandler’s apparent challenge. The referee took heed, and instead awarded a free-kick to Frankfurt. Eintracht went on to win the game, but honesty was the real winner of the day.
Moment 1 | Matchday 25 | Maxim Leitsch (Bochum)
Bochum get behind Leitsch
Football can be a fickle business, but not in Bochum. All was forgotten against Augsburg on Bundesliga Matchday 25, just days after Maxim Leitsch’s individual error had sent Freiburg into the DFB Cup semi-finals at Bochum’s expense. The VfL supporters got right behind their man, who repaid the faith by scoring his first Bundesliga goal. They were chanting his name before the game, and partied with him afterwards.
Moment 2 | Matchday 28 | Sasa Kalajdzic (VfB Stuttgart)
Better call Sasa
No one wants to see a fellow competitor get injured, especially if it involves a clash of heads. That’s what happened between VfB Stuttgart and Arminia Bielefeld, though, as Fabian Klos collided with teammate Alessandro Schöpf in injury time. Klos came off the worse, prompting a speedy response from Stuttgart’s Sasa Kalajdzic. The VfB striker grabbed the stretcher and sprinted over to the scene to hasten the treatment process.
Moment 3 | Matchday 23 | Kostantinos Mavropanos (and Stuttgart and Bochum players)
Greek tragedy avoided
Konstantinos Mavropanos experienced a rollercoaster of emotions when Stuttgart faced Arminia in a relegation six-pointer. VfB thought they’d won it with a late goal, but the drama wasn’t over. Mavropanos conceded an even later penalty, which Eduard Löwen duly dispatched to rescue a point. The Greece international was distraught, something recognised not only his teammates recognised but the opposition players, too. A collective “cheer up, mate, we’ve all been there!”
Moment 5 | Matchday 26 | Ramadan
Break the fast
A mix of nations, colours, religions – the Bundesliga is as diverse as life itself. And so it proved in a game between Mainz and Augsburg. At the moment the sun began to set, the referee unexpectedly blew his whistle to allow Mainz captain Moussa Niakhate to take on fluids. The reason? Niakahte is Muslim and had been observing Ramadan, engaging in a dawn-to-dusk fast.
Watch: Fairplay Award nominees
Moment 6 | Matchday 34 | The Dortmund team
Relegation pep talk
There was no shortage of final-day drama at the foot of the standings. Hertha Berlin needed to avoid defeat in Dortmund to be sure of their place in next season’s Bundesliga, while Stuttgart had to beat Cologne to have any chance of avoiding the relegation play-offs. Hertha lost, despite taking the lead, but worse was to come as Wataru Endo scored a 92nd-minute winner as VfB sent the Old Lady into the play-offs. The BVB players could have left the visitors to mope about the pitch, but came together to offer words of encouragement ahead of an ultimately successful play-off against Bundesliga 2’s Hamburg.
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