Hosts Osnabruck were leading their second-tier opponents 1-0 when referee Martin Petersen was hit on the head.
The 30-year-old was taken to hospital in an ambulance, though was reportedly conscious and able to get up on his own.
“We’re all in the changing room and are totally shocked and sad”, said VfL player Nicolas Feldhahn. “This is something I’ve never experienced. We are confident that we would have won the game. What happens now, I do not know.”
Club president Hermann Queckenstedt was mortified at what had happened at a match where tempers had already flared up.
“This is a bitter lesson. I apologize on behalf of VfL Osnabrück at referee Petersen,” he said over the stadium PA system before asking fans to leave calmly.
The DFB has already begun an investigation, with the likelihood that Osnabruck will be thrown out of the tournament since it is believed that the lighter was thrown from a section of the stadium containing home fans.
A similar incident took place in a second round match between Stuttgarter Kickers and Hertha Berlin in 2006 when a linesman was hit by a mug of beer thrown from the fans. That match was awarded to Berlin.
More to follow