If you thought it had all gone peaceful over at Bayern Munich following the end of the season and the title win, you might be about to get a rude awakening. Club President (the already unpopular) Herbert Hainer revealed this weekend that the club are in negotiations over continuing their controversial sponsorship deal with Qatar Airlines- a move that will definitely stir up a hornets nest amongst large parts of the fanbase.
“The fact is that we are in talks with Qatar Airways” Hainer told Bild. “In addition to the financial and legal aspects, we are also concerned with the social aspects. We’ll talk to Qatar Airways and then we’ll see what comes of it.”
The club’s current deal with the Gulf state airline is coming to an end and the fan base has long been very vocal in its opposition to the Bavarian club’s name being ‘tarnished’ by association with a country widely accused of human rights abuses. The Südkurve have not held back over the years with displays of protest, while the 2021 annual General Meeting descending into chaos with fan protests and the now famous speech from Michael Ott.
Uli Hoeness hit out at the time ranting, “Your appearance was embarrassing! This is the Bayern Munich football club and not the Amnesty International General Assembly!”.
At the 2021 Jahreshauptversammlung 77.8% of Bayern Munich’s members voted in favour of the club aligning with ‘internationally acknowledged human rights’ standards, a move seen by many as an attempt to end the club’s relationship with the Qatari state-backed airline.
The deal if it does continue will be worth around €25 million per year. Bayern’s argument is that, in order to compete with the financial might of the Premier League, revenue streams must be found. The counter-argument from the fans is that Bayern’s values are worth more and spoiling the shirt with the controversial Gulf state amounts to sports washing.
The fact that Hainer made the revelation on Saturday, the same day as he spoke at ‘Diversity Mountain’ (a day of diversity projects in Munich) won’t be lost on Bayern fans. How can the club be against discrimination on the one hand, but taking Qatari money with the other?
This year’s General Meeting already promised to be a lively affair with Hainer under pressure following the sackings of Nagelsmann, CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, but should the club sign a new deal with Qatar Airlines, expect a feisty affair to get even feistier as the fans won’t be easily appeased.