Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Hoffenheim's Hopp wants a stop to the abuse
by Ian Plenderleith, September 26th, 2008 10AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily



[GERMANY] When 1899 Hoffenheim beat Borussia Dortmund, 4-1, last weekend, the home side's celebrations were dulled by an unpleasant banner among the traveling support. The face of Hoffenheim's multi-millionaire owner and benefactor Dietmar Hopp was displayed in a crosshair under the message "Hasta La Vista Hopp!" The fan also reportedly cursed Hopp as a "son of a whore."

Hopp took what he saw as a murder threat seriously, some might say too seriously, and police later arrested a 19-year-old male in connection with the incident. But after weeks of abuse from opposition fans Hopp said that he felt a line had been crossed and that it was time to send a message. He's even considering a civil prosecution against the fan.

Why is there so much hostility towards Hopp and Hoffenheim? German fans are sticklers for tradition. They successfully fought against all-seater stadiums to retain standing areas, and for the retention of Saturday afternoon kickoff times for the majority of games, against the wishes of the TV companies. In Hoffenheim's case, they are also against the idea of buying success, despite this being the only way that a club in a town with a population of just over 3,000 could ever conceivably rise up German soccer's pyramid structure and into its highest division. Upstart newcomers are not welcome.

There's a huge double standard here, however. Although German league rules prevent any single person or company from taking a majority stake in an individual club -- thus preventing the kind of takeover that has swept the English Premier League and massively enriched teams like Chelsea -- current league leaders Schalke 04, for example, have been financed and sponsored these past few years by the giant Russian energy concern Gazprom. There are no chants or protests aimed at the company's wealth when Schalke plays on the road. And it's hardly as though any of the league's other clubs are run along the lines of cash-free cooperatives.

Meanwhile, the German federation has announced that it too wants to punish fans who hurl insults at Hopp. For some, such as Michael Rosentritt writing in the Berlin-based daily Tagesspiegel, this is going too far. Although he sees no justification for the abuse against Hopp, "abuse and insults sadly belong to soccer as much as the referee who has to soak up the worst abuse every weekend." He said any sanctions will only encourage fans to become more creative in finding new ways to slander Hopp. Arnd Festerling in the Frankfurter Rundschau, by contrast, wrote that "intervention was long overdue."

Hoffenheim was knocked out of the German Cup on Wednesday by second division Freiburg, but has made a solid start to its Bundesliga campaign, sitting nicely in second place with 10 points from five games. Its good form could be a passing phase, and so could the abuse from opposition supporters. In the meantime, it's unfortunate that, as Sunderland manager Roy Keane pointed out this week when his side was booed by home fans and he was targeted for personal abuse during a League Cup game against lowly Northampton Town: "We have some bloody brilliant supporters, but you always remember the idiots."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Georgia teen Reuben Nsemoh    
"My friends would always talk to me in Spanish and would teach me. I wasn't perfect, ...
U.S. Abroad: Pulisic rescues Borussia Dortmund    
Christian Pulisic came off the bench to set up one goal and score the tying goal ...
Lauren Holiday recovering after successful surgery    
Former U.S. national team star Lauren Holiday is recovering after having successful surgery at Duke University ...
What They're Saying: Jake Edwards    
"It'll evolve slightly for some of those teams over the coming seasons, I believe. We'll find ...
MLS Decision Day: What's at stake    
The 2016 Supporters' Shield and the final two playoff berths are on the line on Sunday ...
MLS Countdown: Donovan, Gordon are Galaxy wild cards    
Last weekend Landon Donovan started his first game since coming out of retirement yet it was ...
This week in women's college soccer    
Stanford junior Andi Sullivan and BYU senior Ashley Hatch made their national team debuts with the ...
This week in men's college soccer    
One of the most impressive streaks in recent years in men's college soccer is Denver's 32-game ...
What They're Saying: Sigi Schmid    
"I would love to do that, but there's still this thing, stigma, lack of respect or ...
CCL: FC Dallas rallies to clinch group title    
Needing at least a tie to advance, FC Dallas rallied from 2-0 down after 22 minutes ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives