Union Berlin fans unveil vulgar banner targeting Hoffenheim owner as protests continue in Germany

Yahoo Sports
Union Berlin fans displayed a vulgar banner protesting Hoffenheim backer Dietmar Hopp. (Andreas Gora/dpa via AP)
Union Berlin fans displayed a vulgar banner protesting Hoffenheim backer Dietmar Hopp. (Andreas Gora/dpa via AP)

For the second straight day, a Bundesliga match was stopped due to fan protests against Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp and the German soccer federation.

Referee Bastiain Dankert twice stopped Union Berlin’s home match vs. Wolfsburg due to separate sign incidents, one of which was a banner reading “son of a whore.” The teams played to a 2-2 draw.

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It follows a match on Saturday in which Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim refused to play the final 10 or minutes after similar signs were held up.

Bundesliga fans protest for second day

The Sunday match was stopped briefly a first time when the home fans displayed banners disapproving of the German soccer federation (or DFB) going back on its 2017 decision to scrap collective punishment for fans, per the Associated Press. The DFC decided on Feb. 21 to ban all Borussia Dortmund supporters from games at Hoffenheim for two years due to repeated abuse of Hopp.

The match was briefly stopped for 11 minutes shortly before halftime when supporters held up a banner saying “son of a whore” with Hopp’s face in crosshairs, according to the AP. Bayern Munich fans held signs with the same phrase on Saturday.

From the Associated Press:

During the second stoppage, stadium announcer Christian Arbeit told fans the game would be called off if it was halted for a third time. “Let’s play football,” he said before the game resumed for the rest of the first half.

Why fans are protesting Hopp

Hopp is the billionaire co-founder of software giant SAP and has pumped cash into Hoffenheim for a decade now as it’s risen from the fifth division to Bundesliga. The influx of money like that is frowned up on Germany, and goes against the “50+1” rule.

The rule is meant to protect clubs from takeovers by major stakeholders and keeps the club’s dues-paying fans as the collective majority owner. Hopp was granted an exception in 2015 due to his long-term support.

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