Saturday, October 24, 2020

Bayern Munich protests explained – why does everyone hate Hopp so much?

On Saturday, Bayern Munich’s game at Hoffenheim was called to a temporary halt as the Bayern ultras unfurled a banner branding the Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp a “son of a wh*re”.

Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich players stood together

As the ultras refused to clear the banner, under the UEFA three-step protocol employed by the German officials, the referee had no choice but to call a halt to the game until the fans stopped their protest.

The Bayern Munich players, manager Hansi Flick and even some board members including the likes of Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and Oliver Kahn pleaded with the fans to remove the banner. After around 20 minutes, the protests eventually stopped and the players came back out.

Only, they didn’t come back out with the intention of playing. As the game was already settled with the score sat at 6-0 in favour of the away side, the two sides agreed not to attempt to score any more goals.

When they came back out, both sets of players stood in the middle of the field and simply passed the ball between them for the last 13 minutes of the game – just to ride out the clock.

After the final whistle, the Bayern players and staff did not go to thank their fans as they normally would. Instead, all of the Bayern Munich players and managing director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stood with the Hoffenheim team and owner Hopp in a show of solidarity.

Why do German fans hate Hopp so much?

Essentially for the same reasons they all hate RB Leipzig – because they bought their place in Bundesliga. When Dietmar Hopp bought Hoffenheim in 2000, they were little more than a village football club playing in the fifth tier of German football.

However, by the year 2008, Hopp had sunk hundreds of millions into the club and they managed to attain promotion to the Bundesliga – much to the annoyance of the fans.

The other main reason he is so sorely hated is because Hopp is one of three exceptions to the fabled 50+1 rule in German football. The rule, which means that members (fans) must hold the majority of voting rights in every club – it was originally introduced in 1998 as a replacement for the old rule which banned private ownership completely.

It allows German football to hang on to their heritage of being fan-run football clubs, while still being able to have enough funds to compete with the rest of Europe. There are three Bundesliga clubs who are exempt from the rule – Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, and Hoffenheim.

Leverkusen were set up in 1904 by employees of Pharmaceutical company Bayer. Given that their entire heritage relies on the company Bayer – they were allowed to be excluded from the rule. The same goes for Wolfsburg, who were founded in 1945 by company employees at Volkswagen – who literally built the city of Wolfsburg.

The rules for exemption are determined by whether or not a person or entity have held a financial interest in the club for upwards of 20 years – if that is the case, you are entitled to apply for an exemption.

In December 2014, this is what Dietmar Hopp did, and his request was granted – much to the annoyance of fans around the country who saw the move as an affront to the German footballing heritage.

The other main issue the fans have at the moment is with the DFB – the German football federation. For years now, instead of punishing individuals who break the rules at football grounds, the DFB have issued collective punishments that hurt the whole fan base – as you would expect, the fans hate this.

In 2017, they issued a statement pledging to end the collective punishments. However, they totally disregarded that and continued to issue them. Just as one example, Borussia Dortmund fans have been handed a two-year ban from attending away games at Hoffenheim after they displayed a banner showing Hopp in a crosshair…

That’s why the Bayern Munich protest was not just a flash in the pan. We saw protests like this happening around the country – with Union Berlin and Dortmund fans doing something similar to the Bayern ultras. The protests have clearly had an impact and, as such, you can expect them to continue.

What has Bayern Boss Hansi Flick had to say on the issue?

Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick was visibly irritated by events in the away end at Hoffenheim this weekend and made no bones about his fury towards his own club’s fans. Today, he spoke to the media ahead of Bayern’s trip to Schalke in the DFB-Pokal this week.

“My team’s sporting performance on Saturday was spoiled by some of our own fans,” said Flick. “You can’t approve of that. Our very good performance was not recognized by these few anarchists. Now I just want to focus on football.

“Today, I would not have reacted differently to Saturday. I did that and I would do it again. I hope tomorrow it doesn’t come to that again. I want to play football and in the end, the better team should win”

That response was probably a lot calmer and lot more level-headed than he was when he spoke about the issue straight after the game on Saturday. Flick, who was Hoffenheim manager from 2000-2005, was scathing with his club’s fans.

“That has nothing to do with football. It can’t continue like this. It’s time to act. We need to stand together and cannot condone it,” ranted Flick.

“I grew up here and I’ve known Dietmar Hopp for over 20 years. I’m sorry for him as he’s done so much for society. Every single one of these troublemakers probably has someone in their family who has profited from what Dietmar Hopp has done – when it comes to cancer research, for example.

“We need to stand together and fight these troublemakers, these idiots. It’s a dark day for FC Bayern. Both clubs made a very big statement today.”

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was equally as frustrated with the incident and told media of his shame.

“I’m deeply embarrassed, particularly for Dietmar Hopp. Football reared its ugly head. The moment has come for the whole of German football to stand together. For too long we’ve turned a blind eye to what’s been going on in the stands.

“After what happened today we need to rethink things and we need to fight it with everything we have. We filmed everything and will come down heavily on our fans and bring them to justice. These people have no place in football stadiums.”

For more like this, visit our dedicated football page here. Meanwhile, follow us on Facebook for more opinions and analysis right to your timeline.

Similar Articles

Comments

SIMILAR

Why A ‘European Premier League’ Is A Bad Idea

It has been announced that Liverpool and Manchester United are planning talks to join a ‘European Premier...

Reviewing Week 6 Of The NFL

Week 6 is now complete in the NFL. In a week that saw no Thursday Night Football...

A Review Of Week 5 In The NFL

We have seen five weeks fly by in the NFL. We are over a quarter of the...

British Ice Hockey, what could be done better?

People will say the British ice hockey league is just a stepping stone for import players to...

Everton: They Couldn’t, Could They?

Everton are currently top of the Premier League. After four straight wins, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are sitting...

The First Period

First of all thanks for reading my Column, those that know me would say I'm a hockey...

Bears 1 point win makes massive statement

They've made a habit of starting slow in 2020, but the Bears 1 point win over the...

NFL: Review Of Week 4

Week 4 is complete in the NFL and we are now a quarter of the way through...

“I Thought I Was Going To Die”: My Interview With Paul Brown

Last week i has the chance to speak on Zoom with Paul Brown, who can be found...

Assessing Liverpool’s 7-2 Loss To Aston Villa

Liverpool were stunned on Sunday after their 7-2 loss away to Aston Villa. In a match that...