‘Everyone will be crossing their fingers for Bayern Munich’ – and so they should
It is the sworn duty of each member of the notorious FC Bayern hierarchy to provoke polemic at every opportunity. No stone must be left unturned in the quest to propagate the Party Line – as well as the Party Image and the Party Superiority – on an incessant basis. And the Champions League Final in Munich has provided one of the most lucrative PR opportunities for years.
Almost from the moment Bastian Schweinsteiger’s penalty hit the back of Iker Casillas’ net, FC Bayern launched into a PR attack on all fronts, portraying FC Bayern as one of history’s greatest clubs, representatives for an entire nation and, perhaps most importantly of all, the neutrals’ favourite.
Mere days after the semi final victory in Madrid, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge declared to the German media that “everyone will be crossing their fingers for Bayern”. Uli Hoeneß soon followed with a stinging attack on Chelsea’s controversial owner: “It’s all well and good to have an Abramovich pumping a billion Euros into a club, but if we win the Champions League, we’ll also have made a 20 to 25 million Euro profit.”
They are the same old arguments. Arguments which Premier League fans and Bayern haters alike are sick to the back teeth of hearing. Arguments to which, even when there isn’t a European Cup Final to be played, the likes of Hoeneß and Rummenigge perpetually revert. They are right to do so.
The Bayern philosophy, according to Hoeneß is “sporting success and financial prosperity”. It is an admirable mantra. One which in the last ten years has seen them win five domestic doubles, reach two Champions League Finals, move to a new stadium and still manage to regularly balance the books. But the real success story lies elsewhere.
In 2003, the cult Hamburg club FC St. Pauli were staring into the financial abyss. A removal of their league licence beckoned. The crowning moment of the “Save St. Pauli” campaign came when Uli Hoeneß famously agreed to a spontaneous benefit game between Bayern and the Hamburg club, the revenue from which saw St. Pauli stumble over the financial finish line and stay in the league.
Also in 2003, Hoeneß and Bayern decided that they would offer a £1.6m loan to a club that was on the brink of insolvency. That club then regained control of its finances, repaid the loan, and began to build a new legacy from scratch. It was a new legacy which saw them win the Bundesliga two years in a row and, only last week, claim the first domestic double in their history. That club was Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund and St. Pauli are not alone, either. 1860 Munich and, allegedly, Dynamo Dresden are also among those clubs who have received financial aid from FC Bayern in the last ten years.
It would be ridiculous and insulting to suggest that Uli Hoeneß financed Dortmund’s current success. It would be reductive and unfair to cast Chelsea as the epitome of evil and Bayern as football’s saviours. But, for all their arrogance and shameless PR, it is as clear as day that FC Bayern München have a lot to be proud of.
That, essentially, is why Rummenigge believes that the world will be supporting Bayern. And while most neutrals, one imagines, are probably just hoping for an exciting game, there will surely be few who would begrudge Bayern a fifth European Cup. By proving that, in the murky world of modern football, one doesn’t need a Sheikh or an Abramovich to bring success, you might even say they’ve earned it.Tagged in: bayern munich, Champions League, chelsea, football
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