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Battleground: Bayern Munich general assembly ends in chaos over Qatar sponsorship

“Hainer out! Board out!” club members chanted as Bayern’s annual meeting ended in shouting and boos directed toward the club’s leaders.

FC Bayern Muenchen Annual Meeting Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s first Annual General Assembly since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic ended in chaos and uproar shortly after midnight on Thursday. The cause of the debacle: the widely publicized proposal by Michael Ott that would require Bayern Munich not to renew its sponsoring relationship with Qatar Airways.

The club executives made no move to take up Ott’s proposal, which they argued was inadmissible. Ott petitioned a Munich court to order FC Bayern to bring his proposal to a vote at the assembly, but the court likewise sided with the board.

Club president Herbert Hainer alluded to Ott’s proposal in his introductory speech. “As a club, we are open to every discourse... But criticism should always be made factually and rest on a sound basis.” The club members present saw things differently and responded with boos.

The scene escalated as the night wore on, when the club heard spontaneous proposals from those present. One proposal was that the club identify itself with “international-recognized human rights,” which might hypothetically also exclude collaboration with Qatar. The motion was adopted: 77.8% of the club members voted for it—the entire board voted against it.

Ott attempted to bring his own proposal, but was shot down on legal grounds: Vice President Dieter Meyer declared, ”I will not allow us to vote on illegal proposals. The state court of Munich decided today that the members’ assembly is not competent.”

Ott brought a second proposal: namely, that the portion of Bayern Munich AG (the soccer division) owned by the club (FC Bayern e.V.) should be raised from 70% to 75%. That measure fell just short of the necessary three quarters majority to be adopted.

The moment when the club members’ patience ran out arrived shortly after midnight: Gregor Weinreich, president of the fan club organization “Club Nr. 12,” addressed the Qatar sponsorship: he simply did not understand the club’s position. Where was the dialogue from Bayern Munich? Why couldn’t the club simply accept the next-best offer for a sleeve sponsorship after Qatar Airways?

The assembly stood up and applauded for minutes. Hainer attempted to mitigate the damage. He said, “We have by no means decided to continue with Qatar.”

But Hainer then abruptly ended the session—before Ott and others could speak. The crowd erupted in a rage: “We are Bayern—and you are not.” “We are the fans, whom you don’t want!!” They chanted, and the evening ended with cries of “Hainer out!” Even Uli Hoeness retreated from the podium wordless.

AZ’s Patrick Strasser shared a photograph of one club member who was not permitted to speak denouncing the racism scandal that rocked the FC Bayern Campus last year from atop a chair:

Hoeness said afterward, “I will have to sleep on that first. The worst event that I have ever experienced at Bayern”—evidently surpassing the infamous Annual General Assembly at which a member personally attacked Hoeness himself.

This article is based on information from kicker and SZ.