Bayern Munich have defended their new controversial sponsorship with Doha Airport. Club President Karl Hopfner said that the deal was necessary to keep up with English Premier League clubs.
Bayern Munich President Karl Hopfner has stated that the club's commercial partnership with Hamad International Airport is necessary if they are to keep up with the wealth of the English Premier League.
The Bavarians have come under intense scrutiny from fans and politicians in Germany for striking a deal with the airport in Doha following allegations of human rights violations in the country.
Yet the Bayern boss is adamant that such a deal was struck based on simple economics and said he doesn't understand the backlash to the new sponsorship deal.
"For us, this is an economic deal for our club - in terms of revenue in the Premier League – it's necessary," Hopfner told"SportBild," a German sports weekly. "We must now ensure that the immense funds from England do not jeopardize our squad."
"If politicians now want to make a name for themselves with criticism, that's their business," he added. "Qatar has other investments in Germany - at Volkswagen and a large bank. As our foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, rightly said, this is an economic factor and nothing else."
The foreign minister came to Bayern's defense shortly after the deal was struck, telling the mass-circulation daily "Bild" that Qatar was a "a strong investor in Germany" and that "from a foreign policy point of view, there is nothing wrong with there being exclusive economic relations between Bayern Munich and Qatari companies."
Criticism came mainly in the form of Özcan Mutlu, a Green party member of the Bundestag, when he tweeted: "As if there were no other countries in the whole world for a training camp."
Supporter group "Club Nr 12" also took exception to the deal, confessing that it had felt "more than a little astonishment" at the news. In a statement on their Facebook page, the group argued that the club should take moral concerns into consideration when striking such deals, and not purely economic factors.