A Bayern Munich fan has been banned from attending the club’s home matches after he helped display an "anti-Mondays" banner. While fan groups have issued scathing criticism of the club, the fan intends to resist the ban.
Bayern Munich have banned one of their supporters indefinitely after he was found to have helped display a banner at a reserve team match protesting against Monday fixtures.
Following intense fan protests, Monday games are due to be scrapped in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 as of the 2021/22 season, but no such decision has yet been made regarding the third division in which Bayern's second team, known colloquially as the "Bayern Amateurs," are currently seventh.
Bayern's reserves have a dedicated following and, on February 17 when they played Hallescher FC at the Stadion an der Grünwalderstraße in the Munich suburb of Gießing, some of those fans displayed a large red banner reading: "Bayern Amateurs against Monday games" (pictured above).
In a letter dated March 11 and bearing the signatures of CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and executive vice-chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen, Bayern Munich banned one of the fans who helped organize the banner from all club facilities and locations, including the Allianz Arena where the first team plays its home games, ostensibly for the "unpermitted positioning of a banner."
The supporter in question is a member of the Bayern fan group Munich's Red Pride (MRP), whose members attend every first team match home and away, as well as many reserve team games when the calendar permits. The group have long been outspoken critics of their club's commercial dealings, especially the staging of winter training camps in Qatar and sponsorship deals with the Middle Eastern state.
In January this year, the supporter who has now been banned was a speaker at an event titled "Qatar, Human Rights and FC Bayern: hands out, mouths shut?" organized by Club Nr. 12 – an umbrella organization representing active Bayern supporters.
An invitation for the club to send a representative to the event went unanswered, although CEO Rummenigge did tell Munich's Abendzeitung newspaper in January 2019 that there has been a "positive development in the legal situation of immigrant workers" and "improvements in workers' rights.”
MRP have also been vocal in their criticism of ticket prices in UEFA competitions, including those charged by Bayern Munich, and most recently displayed protest banners during their team's Champions League last-16 first leg victory away at Chelsea in February.
During Bayern's last Bundesliga game before the suspension of the league due to coronavirus, a 2-0 home win over Augsburg, the group displayed a banner reading: "The ugly face of FC Bayern is shown by those who take blood money from Qatar & co."
The message was a reference to Rummenigge's comments in Sinsheim recently, when he called the Bayern fans who displayed banners criticizing the DFB's use of collective punishments and insulting Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp "the ugly face of FC Bayern."
'This farce will not be accepted'
In a statement issued in response to the ban for the displaying the anti-Monday banner – which is an internal Bayern "house ban" rather than a general football banning order issued by the league – Club Nr. 12 suggested that the club was using the incident to punish the fan for his group's previous criticisms.
"This arouses the suspicion that Bayern are using this banner as an excuse to silence a critical supporter whose fan group has consistently criticized the club's engagement in Qatar," they said, adding that "this cannot be accepted" and demanding the "immediate rescinding of the ban."
MRP also released a statement in which they repeated their criticism of Bayern's business with Qatar and promised to resist what they see as an attempt to clamp down on freedom of speech in the stadium.
"Those who don't speak out clearly and unequivocally in favor of human rights in their dealings with their own backers from Qatar aren't only squandering their own credibility; they're also bringing FC Bayern into disrepute,” read the statement.
"If Bayern have set themselves the aim of further restricting the space in which the terraces can be critical, they will face hitherto unseen resistance,” it concluded. "This farce will not be accepted.”
The supporter in question is appealing his ban with the help of lawyer Dr. Andreas Hüttl, who argues that the Stadion an der Grünwalderstraße belongs to the City of Munich, not Bayern Munich. The club therefore have no right to issue a ban, he says, and that even if they did, an indefinite ban would be illegal anyway.
"My client is willing to take this to court," Hüttl told DW. "And I believe he stands a good chance."