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Football: “the protests will continue”, big crisis between German supporters and the Bundesliga

The Bundesliga at war with its own supporters? German fans want to continue to show their anger over a deal reached between professional football clubs and a group of investors. In recent weeks, the throwing of tennis balls and chocolate gold coins has increased, delaying kick-offs like last Saturday’s Bayer-Bayern clash, or forcing referees to interrupt matches.

The fans intend to protest against the agreement signed in December between 2/3 of the members of the DFL, the German Football League, which organizes the Bundesliga, relating to the transfer of an 8% share of the television rights to come in exchange of a capital contribution to help with the marketing and international promotion of the German championship.

Supporters’ groups are calling for a new vote, saying the agreement, reached a year after the rejection of another similar proposal, lacks transparency and is not democratic.

“Investors would change the face of sport”

“The goal is for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 (the 2nd division, Editor’s note) to remain competitive both in sporting and commercial terms,” said the DFL in a press release justifying the agreement. Despite high stadium attendance and a strong television broadcast contract in Germany, interest in the Bundesliga abroad is less than that in the English Premier League or the Spanish La Liga.

German clubs must respect the “50 + 1” rule which guarantees control of their members and limits the influence of outside investors. A very popular rule among fans and, according to journalist Matt Ford, “the general feeling among German fans is that they suspect over-commercialization” of the sport. The decision was taken in December on the sly, according to its detractors, without being able to guarantee that club representatives voted in accordance with the instructions of their members.

A Union Berlin fan, Sam Witt, told AFP that “the protests are organized by the ultras but garner the support of ordinary fans because the arrival of investors would change the face of sport for everyone.” “The protests will continue until the future of the sport is assured or we fans have all left in disgust,” he adds.

The December agreement, however, defined several “red lines” ensuring in particular that the DFL, and not the investors, would decide on the kick-off time and the scheduling of matches as well as the sustainability of the 50+ rule. 1. But, according to Matt Ford, “supporters suspect that these things are not going to stay as they are” and the “movement shows no signs of slowing down.”

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