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Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on Bayern fan banners: “A dark day for football”

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Bayern Munich’s chief executive says today’s protest by the Bayern away fans ruined the club's 120th birthday week.

Bayern Munich fans with flags and flares Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Sinsheim, Germany – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern Munich’s CEO, said he was “ashamed” when Bayern fans unfurled banners targeting Hoffenheim chief investor Dietmar Hopp.

During Bayern’s game against Hoffenheim in Sinsheim on Saturday, a game in which they won 6-0, visiting Bayern fans in the away supporter section of PreZero Arena revealed multiple banners calling Hopp a Hurensohn (son of a whore). The actions caused a game stoppage of roughly 15 minutes, after which Bayern and Hoffenheim players kicked the ball around to run out the clock.

“I must say clearly and definitively: I am ashamed ... of what happened in the away end,” Rummenigge told reporters after the game. “I apologized to [Hopp], but there is nothing to apologize for, because what happened was inexcusable.”

Asked by BFW how he would remember this 6-0 result, Rummenigge said: “As a dark day for football.”

Bayern Munich fans displaying a sign saying “you son of a whore”
Bayern Munich fans displaying a sign reading “you son of a whore”
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images

Game referee Christian Dingert stopped the game twice due to the banners. During the first stoppage of play just after the hour mark, Bayern coach Hansi Flick, as well as Thiago and other Bayern players, went over to the away block and shouted at the Bayern supporters.

Rummenigge, head of sport Hasan Salihamidzic, and incoming Bayern chairman Oliver Kahn later joined Flick’s and the players’ protest. Eventually, all players, coaches, and executives went into the tunnel to wait for Dingert to resume the game.

“I saw in the dressing room after the second stoppage that the players were angry and shocked at our own fans,” Rummenigge said afterward.

After a 13-minute stoppage, Bayern and Hoffenheim players kicked the ball around to run out the rest of the clock. Multiple officials, including Rummenigge, said that the players from both teams decided among themselves to approach the rest of the game this way. Before the final whistle, Bayern players joined their Hoffenheim peers in praising the home fans, turning their backs to their own away support.

“You also saw after the game that the players went to the (home end). Nobody went to our end,” Rummenigge said. “That wasn’t an instruction from anyone at Bayern – not me, not Hasan, not the coach. The players themselves decided this is something they will not tolerate.”

The match and the ensuing events come two days after Bayern celebrated the 120th anniversary of its founding. Away supporters before the game held signs depicting both the old and new club crests before and throughout the game, also occasionally lighting flares. But Rummenigge said the demonstrations against Hopp ruined the celebrations.

When asked by BFW about the timing of the fan protest, Rummenigge said, “It would have been a wonderful week. We had a great game in London. We had a great game today.”

“And with this act, everything was ruined,” he added.

Hopp, who is the co-founder of German software company SAP, is the quasi-owner of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, his boyhood club. For the past two decades, he has transformed them from a club in Germany’s regional fifth-tier to a team that has played in the Champions League, using massive injections of cash to do so. He has been a frequent target of Bundesliga fans, many of whom see his club, like RB Leipzig, as a threat to German football.

“I consider Dietmar Hopp to be an absolute man of honor,” Rummenigge said. “What would this region be without Dietmar Hopp, not only in a footballing sense but in a sporting sense in general?”