Following the heated debates a group of Bayern fans caused by using insults and protests to criticize the club’s plans to save 1860 Munich and make admitted lifetime Schalke fan Manuel Neuer the new goalkeeper, an open letter in which FCB fans repudiate that behaviour now appeared. But what is this all about?
It all started a couple of weeks ago: when the Manuel Neuer seemed more and more certain, an influential fan club raised the voices against that. The reason? Neuer has always been a Schalke fan and apparently is in close contact with a Schalke ultras group many Bayern ultras don’t exactly have a high opinion of. They’d prefer to keep Thomas Kraft, who joined the club in 2004, as starting keeper instead of “wasting” money for a “mercenary”.
Needless to say that when Schalke came to Munich for the DFB Cup semifinal, all hell broke loose. Already famous among Bundesliga fans are the “Koan Neuer” (No Neuer/No New [Keeper] pun) signs, since then similar “Koan Titel” (No Title) signs have often been used to mock FCB fans by reminding them of the unsuccessful season.
But that wasn’t all: During the match, they spent more time singing anti-Neuer chants and insulting the German international than supporting their own team. They did it once to show him that he’s not wanted, you might wanna say. They did not. Over the last weeks, you could always be sure to hear chants or read banners about that specific transfer whenever the Allianz Arena turned red.
Against Hamburg, that group boycotted the match, some of them (as far as I know rightfully) were denied access to their section. A couple of people used that opportunity to position themselves near the commentator so that it was impossible to ignore their slogans and insults.
Being anti-Neuer wasn’t enough: As you all probably know, the local rival 1860 Munich struggles financially. This is relevant for Bayern not only because it’s the rival but also, and mainly, because the club is a subtenant of the Bayern-owned stadium. Once built together as fifty-fifty owners, 1860’s rights were bought a few years ago (for an almost negligible sum due to their financial struggles putting them into an uncomfortable situation for negotiations). Since then, even the rental fee has been reduced.
While the situation of the club hasn’t really improved, at least the relationship between Munich’s biggest football clubs has recently. After former 1860 executive Manfred Stoffers’ policy of making Bayern responsible for the crisis, the new executive Robert Schäfer has realized that, if he wants the club to survive, working with Bayern is more helpful than working against them. Right now, with their future more uncertain than ever, Uli Hoeneß is willed to (again) grant a respite, simply because a bankruptcy would mean a loss of approx. €50m of rental fees.
Whether they don’t want that or don’t understand that Bayern doesn’t spend money to keep 1860 alive, those fans now also protest against Uli Hoeneß who, in their opinion, should let the rival “die” instead. Last Saturday, tons of banners were directed at Hoeneß, one harsher than the other but all harmful for both the atmosphere and public image.
While I hold a specific opinion that 1860 has to be saved for financial reasons and that a transfer of a player shouldn’t be influenced by his allegiances (Jens Lehmann, Luis Figo and many others come to mind), this is not what the aforementioned open letter is about. It’s not about specific opinions, it’s about how you convey your message.
Here are some key points of the open letter, if you want it fully translated, ask Google.
- Not “the FCB fans” are protesting with banners, it’s only a small minority
- We deplore the insulting, harmful way the message was conveyed
- We especially deplore the behaviour towards Uli Hoeneß who, after all he has done for the club, deserves to be treaded with dignity and respect
- We do not think that some fans’ personal antipathy towards a player should ever be a reason to influence a potential transfer. If Manuel Neuer joins Bayern, he will be welcomed just like any other new player.
Like I said earlier, it’s not the opinions we disagree with, it’s the disrespectful behaviour. Even if you don’t want Manuel Neuer to become Bayern’s new keeper or want to see 1860 disappear, you’re not excluded from this. If you think that insulting protests during important matches for the club are the wrong way, visit the following link and add a comment with your name and maybe a simple “Signed.” or “I agree.”:
For further support, you can also follow on Twitter and Facebook. And most importantly, spread the word. Tell other Bayern fans about this. Whether you’re from Canada or Indonesia doesn’t matter, as fans you’re all a part of the FCB family and thus allowed to participate.
NOTE: I am not responsible for the open letter and never was a part of the group that worked on it. When saying “we”, I talk in the name of the Bayern fans who support and agree with this, not the initiators.