In February 2021, Eric Blum was the victim of a violent charge from the Zug striker. The CP Bern defender has decided to take the matter to court.
Fabrice Herzog (27) is certainly one of the best strikers in our league. Four years after having celebrated the first title of Swiss champion of his career, with the ZSC Lions, the international striker could well add a second in a few weeks. Winner of the regular season, Zug indeed leaves with the favors of the forecasts in its semi-final against Davos, this Friday.
However, all is not rosy in the life of Fabrice Herzog. As revealed Blick, Bernese defender Eric Blum filed a civil complaint against him last December. For the record, the Thurgovian had sent a very violent charge to the head of the Bernese defender on February 21, 2021. An attack which had then earned this notorious repeat offender eight suspension matches and a fine of 11,150 francs. A sanction against which Herzog had not appealed. In his judgment, the single judge specified that “the accused has been convicted several times and is considered a repeat offender. The defendant exhibits a certain general lack of regard and also does not appear to have been instructed by the disciplinary sanctions he has received in the past.”
An incident that would be a thing of the past if Eric Blum, whose contract with CP Bern ends at the end of this month, had been able to play normally again following this charge. However, this is still not the case. “When I exceed a certain load limit, the headaches come back and I get a dull sensation in my ears. Like after a noisy concert”, he explained to the Blick in September. In his daily life, Blum admits that he does not feel any symptoms: “If I were not a top athlete, we could probably say that I am cured.”
This did not prevent the 35-year-old defender from filing a criminal complaint against his former teammate in the Swiss team last December. The question that must now be clarified by the Bernese public prosecutor and the criminal judge is whether Herzog is guilty of an offense or not. The investigating authority should, as is customary in such cases, rely on the facts of the sports justice judgment. According to criminal law experts, it is therefore possible that the judgment of the NL single judge will lead the criminal judge to convict Herzog. All this while wondering at what point the border between sports law and criminal law is crossed in a sport that explicitly authorizes physical contact.
Millions at stake?
If Fabrice Herzog were to be convicted in criminal proceedings, this could prompt him to then seek damages in the amount of several million. Blum had certainly explained, in September 2021, that he suffered from no discomfort on a daily basis and that he was cured. But he also said he was no longer able to play high-level sport. Finally, Blum’s sports medical file, which includes several documented concussions, should also be taken into account for the assessment of the overall situation. It would then be up to Blum to prove that it was indeed the incident of February 14, 2021 that caused serious damage to his health.
Not a first in Switzerland
Eric Blum is not the first athlete to resort to civil justice to seek compensation. The most publicized case concerns football and dates back nearly thirty years. On September 13, 1985, at the Charmilles stadium, Servette received Vevey. During this derby, Gabet Chapuisat had committed a violent foul on Lucien Favre. A tackle that had serious physical and professional consequences for the latter: torn cruciate ligament and damaged kneecap. That is 8 months of complete cessation of all competition.
Chapuisat had first been dismissed by his club and then ordered by a court to pay 5,000 francs to Favre for bodily harm caused by negligence.
Antisin in front of the TF
In ice hockey, disputes brought before the civil courts have been more numerous. As, in January 1993, the charge of Zug striker Misko Antisin against Petr Malkov (Ambri) had even been brought to the Federal Court. Antisin knocked out Malkov with a knee. The Ticino cantonal court had sentenced him to a fine of 3000 francs for assault and battery with potential fraud. A judgment confirmed in 1995 by the Federal Court after a series of appeals.
On October 31, 2000, a check on ZSC striker Andrew McKim by Davosien Kevin Miller also caused a stir. Miller had struck his opponent from behind, with the elbow, in the head. McKim had suffered a head trauma which had forced him to put an end to his career. Miller had been sentenced by the Zurich District Court to a three-month suspended sentence for minor and serious bodily harm caused by negligence. After returning to the United States, however, Miller refused to recognize the Swiss court’s decision. A US court sentenced him to pay $1.6 million in moral damages 14 years after the check.
5.5 million for Todd
A shock between Edgar Salis (Ambri) and the Zugois Kevin Todd on February 7, 1999 had also had late repercussions since the scene had not been sanctioned either by the referee or by the single judge. The Canadian, who had to end his career a few matches later, fought on all fronts before finally being compensated up to 5.5 million francs. His complaint for bodily harm had however been rejected by the criminal court of Zug.
Pat Schafhauser (Lugano) and Ronny Keller (Olten), who will remain paralyzed for life after accidents on the ice, had on the other hand given up filing a complaint.