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WATCH: 'Both sides have come to the brink' | Rafael Honigstein on Bayern Munich uproar

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

22:57 3 Mar 2020

Rafa Honigstein helped to explain why Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim played out of a farcical finish to their Bundesliga match last weekend.

Bayern went four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga but the match risked being cut short when the Bavarian fans displayed the banner insulting the Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp.

Hopp is an exceptionally-unpopular figure in German football, as one of the few beneficiaries of shirking the 50+1 rule, whereby fans own a majority shareholding of their club.

The software billionaire has been in litigious form, threatening lawsuits against fans that insult him at matches.

On Saturday, the referee ordered both teams into the tunnel, while some Bayern players as well as the entire club leadership walked to the stands and urged fans to take the banner down.

After 20 minutes, both teams emerged onto the pitch and ran down the clock without playing competitively, ending the game with an ovation for Hopp.

Bayern upheaval

"With a very sensitive political climate in Germany, what with racism at matches, there were a lot of things thrown together [in the Bayern-Hoffenheim match,]" said Honigstein.

"It was easily misunderstood and those that wanted to not have this kind of fan activism found it easy to make it sound as if these were basically criminals.

"That was the sort of language used; 'yobs, criminals, people in masks - they are anonymous and they are insulting people.'

"The fans really feel misunderstood. Some of the Bayern Munich fans released another statement today, going through all the reasons why they used it.

"While they acknowledge that things could have been done a bit more elegantly, they believe that this is a huge overreaction."

It was feared that things would escalate, given the extent of bad feeling towards Hopp.

"I can tell you that there was a lot of expectation of something even more dramatic when Bayern played Schalke in the German Cup.

"The Schalke fans did put out a statement attacking the German FA for what they see as double standards for collective punishments.

"Apart from that, there were no insults towards Hopp and the background was that Schalke had said that if they see anything hateful or discriminatory, they would suspend the game by themselves.

"There is a genuine small sense of optimism that both sets of camps have come to the brink, means that both camps feel that there will be a much more measured dialogue going forward."

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