Bayern Munich’s AGM ends in tumult over Qatar sponsorship

Nov 25, 2021, 8:26 PM | Updated: Nov 26, 2021, 10:27 am
FILE - Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer holds up the trophy as celebrates with his teammates winnin...

FILE - Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer holds up the trophy as celebrates with his teammates winning the Club World Cup final soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Tigres at the Education City stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Feb. 11, 2021. Bayern Munich’s annual general meeting on Thursday Nov. 25, 2021, ended in tumult with members yelling and booing the club’s directors for refusing to discuss its sponsorship arrangements with Qatar. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

Bayern Munich’s annual general meeting ended in tumult with members yelling and booing the club’s directors for refusing to discuss its sponsorship arrangements with Qatar.

“We are Bayern! You are not!” irate fans chanted at club president Herbert Hainer, chief executive Oliver Kahn and other presidium members late Thursday. “We are the fans that you don’t want!”

Tempers frayed following club member Michael Ott’s unsuccessful attempt to lodge a motion calling for a vote on Bayern’s contentious sponsorship agreements with Qatar. Ott, and many other Bayern fans, contend that the partnership with Qatar Airways through 2023 is damaging the club’s reputation because of alleged human rights abuses in the Persian Gulf country as it prepares to host next year’s World Cup.

Ott’s initial attempt was blocked on technical grounds because of a club statute by Munich district court, but he had hoped to put it forward anyway with the support of more than 75% of the members at the AGM.

Bayern vice president Dieter Meyer disagreed.

“You’re welcome to boo. I’m not going to allow us vote on illegal motions here,” Meyer said, referring to the local court’s previous decision.

Ott said the Bayern club officials should have allowed the members discuss the merits of the motion “and then maybe just do a non-binding survey.”

“Whether it was legally OK or not to refuse the vote on this motion, it would have been a question of good character to at least allow me to hold my speech that I had prepared,” Ott told The Associated Press on Friday.

Meyer said Ott was welcome to go back to court to fight his case, prompting a chorus of boos, whistles and shouts from the majority of members attending.

“I had a prepared a 15- to 20-minute speech,” Ott told the AP. “I wanted to lay out for all the problems that exist in Qatar and … why it is in itself wrong to do a sponsorship deal with Qatar. It’s just distracting from the problems in Qatar, and not at all helping to bring change to Qatar. All the experts say if you want to change something there, it’s only possible with public pressure. And that’s the thing that FC Bayern never wants to do.”

At a Bundesliga game on Nov. 6, Bayern fans displayed a huge banner criticizing the club for the “sports washing” of human rights abuses in Qatar through its partnership with Qatar Airways. The club has also been holding mid-season training camps in Qatar since 2011.

The banner depicted Kahn and Hainer laundering blood-stained clothes in a washing machine under the words, “For money, we’ll wash anything clean.”

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann defended the club’s stance at the time, saying it tried “to influence things through dialogue and not by exclusion or looking the other way.”

Ott said Bayern’s claims of achieving change through confidential talks is “phony.”

In August, Amnesty International accused Qatari officials of doing little to investigate thousands of young migrant workers’ deaths in the country over the past decade.

“We need to change our statutes to make sure that we can vote on hot topics,” said Ott, who has been a club member since 2007.

He said the response he has received from fellow Bayern supporters has been mostly positive.

“I had a priest who wrote to me today, a mayor wrote me, and lots of people are encouraging me to continue the fight,” Ott said.

Only 780 members from a possible 1,700 attended the club’s AGM because of strict coronavirus restrictions in Bavaria, which is going through a surge in infections. Those attending reacted furiously when Hainer abruptly ended the meeting despite other members waiting their turn to speak.

News agency dpa reported that one member simply stood on a chair and spoke without a microphone, while most fans present reacted with shouts of “Hainer out! Hainer out!”

Hainer appeared surprised by the reaction.

“Say, what’s going on?” the former Adidas chief executive said into his microphone.

Former club president Uli Hoeneß, who had been sitting the first row, said it was “the worst event that I have ever experienced at FC Bayern.”

Earlier, the club reported a drop in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bayern still recorded a pre-tax profit of 5 million euros ($5.65 million) from revenue of 643.9 million euros (728 million) for 2020-21.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

10 mountaineers killed after avalanche in northern India

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least 10 trainee mountaineers died Tuesday after being swept away by an avalanche in the Himalayas in northern India, media reports said, as rescuers searched for 11 others missing. A group of 29 people was hit by an avalanche on a mountain peak located in the Gangotri range of the […]
1 day ago
People offer prayers near the statue of a lion, the mascot of Arema FC, outside Kanjuruhan Stadium ...
Associated Press

Indonesia police: Stadium exit gates too small for escape

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — The gates at the Indonesian soccer stadium where police fired tear gas that set off a deadly crush were too small and could only accommodate two at a time when hundreds were trying to escape, police investigators said Tuesday. Photos from the Malang stadium where 125 people died and hundreds were […]
1 day ago
FILE - Workers walk to the Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar, Fr...
Associated Press

Paris joins in TV boycott of World Cup games from Qatar

PARIS (AP) — Paris will not broadcast World Cup matches on giant screens in public fan zones amid concerns over rights violations of migrant workers and the environmental impact of the tournament in Qatar. It follows similar moves by other French cities, despite France going in as the defending champion. “There is the problem of […]
1 day ago
Kadokawa Corp. Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa speaks to reporters in Tokyo on Sept. 5, 2022. Kadokawa ...
Associated Press

Publishing executive charged in Tokyo Olympic bribes scandal

TOKYO (AP) — A top executive at a major Japanese publisher was charged Tuesday with bribing a former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee member. The charges against Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, a major figure in Japan’s movie and entertainment industry, are the latest in the unfolding corruption scandal related to last year’s Tokyo Summer Games. Kadokawa was arrested […]
1 day ago
Serbia's coach Marina Malkovic, right, talks with a referee during their game against Mali at the w...
Associated Press

Women to get more rest between hoop games at next World Cup

SYDNEY (AP) — Players at this year’s World Cup had a few concerns about the competition, including the compact schedule and the timing of the tournament, and the women took their complaints right to the top. FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis talked with many of the players during the course of the recently competed tournament. […]
1 day ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) misses a catch during the first half of an NFL fo...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL isn’t passing the eye test on head injuries

What happened in Tampa was the last thing the NFL, its players and its fanbase needed three days after Tua Tagovailoa’s horrifying head injury called into question the league’s commitment to curbing concussions. Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate sat out the second half of Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a […]
1 day ago
Bayern Munich’s AGM ends in tumult over Qatar sponsorship