Hoffenheim & Bayern Munich players pass ball to each other in protest against abusive fans | inside World Soccer


Hoffenheim & Bayern Munich players pass ball to each other in protest against abusive fans

Sunday, March 1, 2020

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There were bizarre scenes late in Saturday's Bundesliga clash between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich when both sets of players spent the final 10 minutes of the match passing to each other following a protest by the away fans.

With Bayern dominating the game 6-0, their supporters in the away end unfurled an offensive banner and began chanting insults aimed at Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp.

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The referee took action and decided to halt the game with less than 15 minutes remaining and the players left the pitch.

During the suspended time, Bayern coach Hansi Flick and a number of club directors, including former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, went to remonstrate with the supporters to remove the flag.

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After concerns that the game could be abandoned, both teams returned to finish the match, but had decided to just run down the clock to end the game in solidarity with Hopp.

Rather than play on, the two sets of players began passing the ball to each other and chatting as if they were teammates.

Following the final whistle, both sets of players and management came together in front of the home fans as a show of collective support for Hopp.

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Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge later apologised on behalf of the club for the actions of their supporters involved.

I am deeply embarrassed about these idiots. The moment has come when the whole Bundesliga, the DFB and the DFL has to join together and act against idiots like these.

Football's ugly side reared its head here today. I am also deeply embarrassed on behalf of Dietmar Hopp, who is a man of honour and has ensured that not just football but sport across the board in this region has been seen in a positive light.

I have also apologised to him. However, what happened in the away end is really inexcusable.

This is an ugly side of Bayern at a game that was in fact a great day for our team.

There is no excuse for these actions. Everything was caught on camera and we will take the firmest of action against those responsible who tarnished the name of FC Bayern today.

Dietmar was of course very emotional. When you get insulted like that, with words like that used against you, it's very understandable. I could only tell him that I simply apologise.

At the same time, however, I am also convinced that a rethink must take place in our country as of today, not only with regard to Dietmar Hopp, he is not the only person who has been insulted in the past.

We have to be careful not to lead football into areas where it has no place. Football is a wonderful game in which we all have a lot of fun. But when I see something like today, I'm shocked and all the fun is lost.

Bayern supporters are not the only set of away fans who have made their feelings towards Hopp known.

Borussia Dortmund fans are currently serving a two-year ban from attending matches at Hoffenheim having been sanctioned for a similar protest against Hopp.

The antipathy towards Hopp is believed to be based on the large financial investments he has made to take Hoffenheim from the fifth tier of German football to the Bundesliga in a short space of time.

The 79-year-old, who is a German billionaire software entrepreneur, is being compared to the owners of Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester City.

This situation is similar to other Bundesliga clubs VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Red Bull Leipzig, as those teams also received large financial support by companies.

Despite this, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg are nonetheless different from Hoffenheim because of their long history as football clubs founded by the factory workers themselves, and have been successful chiefly through their own merits rather than outside funding.

The German Leagues, unlike the English leagues, use a 50+1 rule regarding ownership in which the majority of the club has to be owned by fan groups of the team.

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