Fan participation in German football has been a hot topic in the last week. Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge criticized a new supporter’s initiative called “Unser Fußball” (our football) by stating that, while fans are a part of football, it does not belong to them.
Germany is the biggest league in Europe that still has the 50+1 rule, requiring a majority of a soccer team to be controlled by its members. Hence, it is understandable that Rummenigge’s comments caused controversy in the league where spectators traditionally have close ties with the club.
Answering more diplomatically but still in a tone unison with Rummenigge, former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness commented on the recent developments:
‘’Football belongs to everybody and it is very important that the ultras understand that they are an very important part, but that they cannot decide everything ... I am all for cooperation, but the ultras need to understand that football is also possible without ultras’’
Hoeness cited the insults by Bayern supporters against Dietmar Hopp in Hoffenheim as a prime example when fans shouldn’t be surprised that the club has the power to draw the line. Another point Hoeness made was the fact that many Bundesliga ultras still strictly reject ghost games.
“In this way, they have proven to me that they the club is not their priority, but rather themselves and how they present themselves ... If ghost games had not taken place, then we would have had this or that club in the first and second league that could no longer exist in professional football.”