The announcement of the breakaway European Super League on Sunday caused shockwaves across the continent. While clubs in Spain, England, and Italy had already signed up for the competition before later pulling out, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were on the outside. Why is that?
The so-called European Super League (ESL) enlisted teams who are not enjoying their best run of form such as Arsenal, Spurs and Juventus. However, the reigning world and European champions still were a notable absentee from the proceedings.
It is believed that the two Bundesliga clubs, along with another high-profile absentee — French champions Paris Saint-Germain — are not interested in competing in the European Super League.
The way the 2 clubs and the whole of German football are set up could be a reason as to why two of the biggest teams in the Bundesliga were not offered a seat in the European Super League.
How the 50+1 rule affects the European Super League
Most of Germany's professional clubs, including Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, are governed by the 50+1 rule put in place by the German Football League. According to this rule, no matter who invests in a club, 51% of the ownership of the club will always remain with the fans.
This is designed to prevent private investors from taking complete control of a club, as has been the case for many teams in the Premier League.
Given the vocal opposition to recent Champions League reform proposals, making such a drastic change to European competition will likely be an uphill battle because of the way fans in Germany feel about the Super League.
The timing of the announcement of the European Super League, with fans not allowed in stadiums in most countries, will have been done with the view that organizing protests could be difficult. However, fans of German clubs will have an easier time resisting the new competition because of the 50+1 rule.
The 50+1 rule: What exactly is it?
The 50+1 rule is the name given to the regulation in Germany that any club in the Bundesliga must be majorly owned by the fans. This means that any decisions regarding the club's future must have the votes of the fans as shareholders taken into account.
This means if the fans of Bayern and Dortmund were opposed to their teams participating in the Super League, the club would be forced to respect their wishes.
This rule also prevents the privatization of clubs, which is what we have seen with top-tier teams in other countries. No club is allowed to participate in the Bundesliga unless they follow this rule.
Ultimately, the 50+1 rule allows the fans' voices to be heard and ensures that clubs continue their traditions and honor their history. It values the crucial connection between clubs in Germany and the fans that helped built them.