Footballers in Germany are banned from celebrating goals with hugs during games in the pandemic era. Dimitrij Nazarov made an exception, with a man who would have saved his life.

Nazarov ran to the touchline after scoring with a header by Erzgebirge Aue in a second division matchup on Friday against Nuremberg. On one side of the court, he hugged Thomas Romeyke, a team manager.

Nazarov explained yesterday that Romeyke’s quick reaction saved the team on the trip to the match. Romeyke was driving the club bus a day before the match, when the vehicle was hit by the wreckage of a crashed car.

“He saved our lives, as simple as that,” Nazarov told MDR national television. “If he hadn’t reacted as fast as he did, who knows what would have happened.”

The Azerbaijani national team trusted that the leaders of German soccer “turn a blind eye” to the hug, in view of the circumstances that motivated it.

The league recommends social distancing during celebrations, which have thus been limited to some elbow collisions. The league reminded players from the two main divisions to refrain from outrageous celebrations, after some national politicians criticized the hugs and slaps exchanged by some footballers the week before, on the resumption of the season.

Coach Dirk Schuster told MDR that the Aue was traveling when “suddenly, a car came flying, one meter from the windshield.”

The bus was damaged. Schuster said it was covered in broken glass.

The German news agency dpa reported that none of the occupants was hospitalized for serious injuries. The team eventually ended the tour in smaller vehicles.

Schuster reported that he had not considered the possibility of leaving the game, since he considered it a challenge to stay focused.

Aue and Nüremberg equalized 1-1. Aue ranked sixth in the league, still with a slight chance of moving up to the top flight for next season.

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