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Dietmar Hopp tells 'idiot' fans: I won't stop coming to Hoffenheim games

  • Dietmar Hopp says fan anger against his ownership of Hoffenheim, which reached a head on Saturday, reminds him of "very dark times".
Omnisport
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Modified 01 Mar 2020, 17:50 IST
dietmar hopp - cropped
Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp

Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp has told those who protest against his backing of the Bundesliga club that he will not stop attending matches.

Saturday's 6-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich was halted during the second half after visiting fans held up banners insulting Hopp.

After the referee took the players off the pitch to wait for the banners' removal following appeals from the Bayern players, the two teams saw out the rest of the match by passing the ball among themselves as a show of solidarity towards Hopp.

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge apologised after the match for what they described as "ugly" and shameful protests.

Speaking to Sport1, Hopp said: "If I remotely knew what these idiots wanted from me, it would be all the easier for me to understand.

"I can't explain why they are so hostile towards me. It reminds me of very dark times.

"I don't want to talk to these people. It's pointless. They live in another world. I don't want to and I can't talk to them, not at all. I don't know what to say to them.

"Why shouldn't I go to the stadium anymore? The people who do this are the ones who should stay away."

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There were similar scenes in Borussia Dortmund's 1-0 win over Freiburg, when a tannoy announcement called for Dortmund fans to cease anti-Hopp chants.

The apparent anger from supporters stems from frustration with the way Hoffenheim have risen through the German leagues to become a major player in the Bundesliga thanks to Hopp's significant financial backing.

In December 2014, Hopp was granted an exemption from German football's '50+1' rule, which states that members – who are almost certainly fans – must control 50 per cent of a club's shares with voting rights, thereby preventing external parties from buying controlling stakes.

Exemptions can be granted for investors who can prove they have provided large-scale, consistent support for a club over 20 years. Bayer Leverkusen – founded by workers of pharmaceutical giant Bayer in 1904 – and Wolfsburg, who are affiliated with Volkswagen, are two such examples.

The German Football League (DFL) said at the time that a key part of their decision to grant Hopp's exemption was that he "has provided considerable financial support for both the professional as well as the amateur teams of the club".

While the 50+1 rule is widely popular among German football fans who are keen to see clubs avoid falling into the hands of potentially reckless owners motivated by profit –there remains deep animosity towards RB Leipzig's swift progress thanks to the backing of Red Bull – former Bayern winger Mario Basler thinks the latest scenes in Hoffenheim highlight the danger of giving supporters too much influence.

"We're used to things. You get attacked on the internet. You encounter incredible hatred there, and also in the stadiums. But this weekend – that was a culmination," he said to Sport1.

"Ultras are given too much power. The clubs are afraid. They [the ultras] are not for football, but against it. They have to get out of the stadiums."

Former Bayern and Germany star Stefan Effenberg added: "The DFB [German Football Association] and the DFL are responsible. Everyone knows the problem, but nobody does anything."

Published 01 Mar 2020, 17:50 IST
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