Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim played out one of the most surreal endings in football history today.
Hans-Dieter Flick’s side were cruising to victory at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena when the game was stopped because of a banner displayed by the visiting fans.
The travelling support unfurled a banner reading “Dietmar Hopp remains a son of a whore” not long after Leon Goretzka made it 6-0 in the 62nd minute.
Hopp is an unpopular figure in the Bundesliga because his ownership is considered to be contradictory to the principles of German football, specifically the ’50+1′ rule.
His billions allowed Hoffenheim to accelerate from the fifth division to the Bundesliga in just eight years.
As a result, both owner and club have been protested against regularly, with Borussia Dortmund fans particularly vocal in their condemnation.
BVB fans were recently banned from the Rhein-Neckar-Arena because of offensive chants aimed at Hopp, similar in tone to Bayern’s banner.
The software entrepreneur has never been one to take criticism on the chin; several Dortmund fans were found guilty of verbal abuse and were slapped with significant fines as Hoffenheim pursued uncommon legal action.
In recent times, protests at football matches have been linked with dangerous calls for violence, with many moralising on football’s reflection of society.
Borussia Monchengladbach fans were recently chastised after they displayed a banner depicting Hopp in crosshairs — the protest was deemed distasteful as it came in the wake of the far-right terrorist attack in Hanau.
Many have called for a deescalation in protests, which is why the Bayern ultras’ banner was deemed significant enough to cause a halt in play.
After a long delay in which players, coaches and club officials pleaded with the fans in question to remove the offending banners, the two teams agreed to resume the fixture in a totally noncompetitive fashion.
Players of both sides ran down the clock by exchanging passes with each other in an unusual conclusion.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stood next to Hopp on the touchline as the game petered out into something less intense than a warm-down, with opponents joining forces to perform kick-ups.
Players and staff of both clubs made a deliberate show of solidarity as reports from Germany suggest the game was close to being abandoned.
Some fans already feel their right to express their opinion is being suppressed and this incident will only add fuel to the fire.