Martin Hinteregger: Scratches on a national football career – sport

From a sporting point of view, the 1st Hinti Cup will take place exactly as planned. In Sirnitz and the surrounding towns, around 60 children’s and youth teams will compete on Saturday, local teams will then meet people who have traveled from Frankfurt and other regions of Germany – and all of this could end under the Carinthian June sun in the festival that was actually planned : with DJ Ötzi as entertainer, with an award ceremony for the children – and in the center. Martin Hinteregger as the initiator of his own youth tournament.

However, the atmosphere shouldn’t be quite so exuberant, at least DJ Ötzi won’t be there. The big evening event on Saturday was canceled after Austrian investigative journalist Michael Bonvalot researched that the event had been organized in cooperation with Heinrich Sickl, a former FPÖ councilor and fraternity member who owned a third of Hinti-Event GmbH . Hinteregger, 29, then only distanced himself from the collaboration in a somewhat vague message on Instagram. Then he apologized more clearly to the ORF for not having found out more about Sickl. In retrospect, it was “shocking” to find out which political direction he stood for, said Hinteregger.

A representative of the new right who organizes a youth tournament together with a soccer professional – Bonvalot’s research was followed by a huge media response. “Right-wing extremists?”, “Now also connections to right-wing extremists”, “Contacts in the right-wing scene” were the headlines of the past week, which should have an effect even for a footballer like Hinteregger who is experienced in tabloids.

“It will leave a small scratch on my career, but anyone who wants to put me in this corner knows that this is nonsense,” Hinteregger told ORF. He was not available for an interview with the SZ.

The name Sickl is well known, his mother was once a minister

“If you don’t have a specific interest in right-wing extremist journalism or the Graz FPÖ, you don’t know Mr. Sickl,” says Bernhard Weidinger, who researches right-wing extremism in Austria and can therefore at least classify with whom Hinteregger teamed up to organize the concert would have. Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine “that one does not inform oneself about a business partner”.

Sickl is known locally simply because of its name. His mother Elisabeth, a former federal minister of the FPÖ, owns the Albeck Castle, a cultural center, near the village. It remains to be seen whether the political leanings were just as unknown. However, Weidinger defends Hinteregger on one point: “Even if the camp had taken place in the form originally planned, one can assume that no ideological training would have taken place there.”

“Mr. Sickl is an innkeeper and has nothing to do with the sports clubs that organize the cup,” says Franz Hinteregger. Martin’s father is a youth leader at SGA Sirnitz, the local football club where his son also started his career. Four German teams had canceled “due to the circumstances”, reports Hinteregger Senior, who is helping to organize the tournament. It was a challenging week: “The concern is so strong this time because it’s not even his fault and he’s still being dragged through the dirt – by everyone,” says Franz Hinteregger, also with a view to earlier escapades: “Martin had actions , where he had one or two too many beers or where he honestly trumpeted something.” This time, however, the allegations were on a different, reputation-damaging level.

At best, Hinteregger is an outstanding central defender of the rustic variety

As a teenager, Hinteregger once moved from Sirnitz to the RB Academy in Salzburg, where he criticized the cooperation with RB Leipzig a few years later. He himself did not want to join the Saxons and ended up in Augsburg via Gladbach. There he publicly contradicted the then FCA coach Manuel Baum and was loaned to Frankfurt. In the summer of 2019, a drunken video of Hinteregger made the rounds in a Tyrolean village square during the Augsburg training camp. This was followed by a permanent move to Frankfurt – and there he rose to become a fan favorite with his own fan club called “Hinti-Army”. His contribution to Frankfurt’s historic Europa League victory this year is large, even if he missed the final due to injury.

At best, Hinteregger is an outstanding central defender of the rustic kind and a character that some people would like to see in football: According to his own statements, he would have preferred to play in the 1980s, at a time when a “funnier, more authentic life” would have been possible , Hinteregger once said.

All of this gives the picture of a popular professional, sometimes walking on the edge of good taste, with a penchant for indiscipline, but who was always popular and valued in his teams. One who already coached a youth team in Augsburg and who also likes the fact that he organizes a youth tournament in his home country. “Martin put up a Ukrainian family in Frankfurt and has played with countless nations in Salzburg and Frankfurt for over a decade,” says his father. “Then saying that someone like that is right-wing really hurt me.”

Numerous media have announced that they will be attending the Hinti Cup in Sirnitz. Hinteregger will have to deal with the question of why he apparently lacked political awareness when choosing a business partner. If Hinteregger finds the right answers, the next questions could be about where he will continue his career, which has now been scratched. Frankfurt, as Hinteregger himself recently said, had meanwhile suggested that he say goodbye in the summer.

In the meantime, staying with Eintracht seems to be possible again. But how is the relationship between the club and the player right now? In a statement on the case, in which Frankfurt asked the defender to distance himself from the right-wing political spectrum, it said: “Those responsible for the club have not yet reached Hinteregger.”



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