Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said he was “shocked” after Bundesliga leaders’ annual general meeting fell into chaos when supporters revolted against a Qatari sponsorship deal. “This is the worst event I’ve ever seen at FC Bayern. I’m ashamed,” Hoeness burned after Thursday night’s five-hour-long AGM got heated. Tensions have built up between the German giants and a group of Bayern supporters who are unhappy about the club’s five-year sponsorship deal with state-owned Qatar Airways, worth about 20 million euros ($ 22.5 million) a year.
The agreement will expire in 2023, but some Bayern members are putting pressure on current President Herbert Hainer and CEO Oliver Kahn not to renew it.
The club’s rebels point to human rights groups, which accuse Qatar of exploiting foreign workers, especially in the construction of stadiums for the next World Cup, which kicks off in November 2022, Qatari officials claim to have rejected.
At Thursday’s AGM, a large group of about 800 members reacted angrily amid shouts of “Hainer out!” and “We’re the fans you do not want!” after the club blocked a motion to allow members to vote on the Qatari sponsorship deal.
Earlier on Thursday, a regional court in Munich ruled that Bayern “are not obliged to discuss further sponsorship by Qatar Airways” and club bosses referred to the ruling at the AGM.
Confronted with open rebellion among their own members, senior Bayern figures insist that there are better ways to influence the situation than not renewing the sponsorship deal.
“I remain convinced that dialogue is the best way to bring people together,” Hainer told the AGM.
The Bayern president revealed that the club had by no means decided to continue the controversial sponsorship deal, but insisted that they look forward to the contract.
Kahn said the club had done their due diligence before signing the deal in 2018, pointing out that Bayern “have very clear criteria for such partnerships. There are compliance requirements, as with any partner”.
The Covid-19 pandemic also took a toll on Bayern by beating Germany’s richest club.
The club’s total turnover has shrunk by more than 100 million euros for the 2020/21 financial year from 750.4 million to 643.9 million since their record year 2019.
The group’s profit has also fallen from 52.5 million euros to 1.9 million euros after tax over the past two years.
“For football, the pandemic is a huge challenge. Since March 8, 2020, we have had very few matches with spectators in the Allianz Arena,” Kahn said.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated stream.)
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