Bayern Munich Qatar sponsorship deal

Bayern Munich’s fans expressed their disapproval this week at a decision by the club to renew their sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways.

The German side are currently top of the Bundesliga table and this week qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Despite the good run of form, however, Bayern are seemingly weighed down by the disapproval of their fans over their connection with Qatar.

The annual shareholders’ meeting, at which the continuation of the financial agreement was to be debated, turned into a controversial arena of opinions on Thursday.

“It was the worst Bayern meeting I have ever attended,” said honorary club president Uli Hoeness.

Since 2017, Bayern Munich’s business relationship with Qatar has sparked dislike amongst a portion of the club’s supporters.

This happened, most recently, at a match at the Allianz Arena, with a banner bearing the image of Oliver Kahn and Herbert Hainer, the club’s managing directors.

“In exchange for money, we launder everything,” read the banner. This was in reference to allegations of a lack of human rights in Qatar.

Bayern have excused themselves on several occasions, justifying their actions.

“[Angela Merkel] called on companies in 2018 to re-establish relations with Qatar,” said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge a few weeks ago. “Bayern is a successful club, but also a company.”

A heated assembly
The shareholders accused Bayern of keeping quiet and not speaking out on the issue, which is why Thursday’s meeting was expected to be so controversial.

Nothing even came of the meeting. Instead, those present ended up chanting against the board, calling for the departure of some of them, like Hainer, due to the agreement.

Uli Hoeness claimed he would take the stage to speak, but at that point some members started chanting.

“We are the fans you don’t want,” they chanted, which led the controversial former Bayern president to refuse to take to the floor.

“We have absolutely not decided to continue with Qatar. Just as Qatar has not yet decided to continue with us,” Hainer said in his speech on the renewal of a deal that ends in 2023.

“It cannot be the case that a proposal from Qatar is not voted on in a general assembly – why don’t we simply accept the second-best offer after Qatar Airways, why can’t we go down this road?” explained Gregor Weinreich, former president of the Bayern fans’ association in what ended up being the most applauded intervention.

The motion was not voted on due to a Munich court ruling that stated the club could decide on it without the approval of the assembly. Since this chaotic meeting, the renewal of the agreement has not been finalised, nor is the debate among the fans of Germany’s most successful club.

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