The President of Borussia Dortmund has shocked Germany by saying showing solidarity with other clubs in the coronavirus pandemic shows a lack of competitive spirit.
He also said: “The risk of contamination in a professional team made up only of high-level athletes cannot be that bad.”
While calls for solidarity are being made around the world, including in the world of football, the President of Borussia Dortmund, Hans-Joachim Watzke has stood out with his somewhat different approach.
During an interview with German TV channel ARD, he first questioned suspending the Bundesliga. He said: “The context should not be exaggerated.”
He added: “The risk of contamination in a professional team made up only of high-level athletes cannot be that bad.”
He then went further, even suggesting that solidarity between German clubs was not the way to go.
He said: “If we had to show solidarity with other countries, where would the competitive spirit be?”
He added: “I am not really in favour of it, because it would not be normal for clubs that have worked hard to help those who worked badly these last few years.
“We have a commercial business and we all compete. So you have to wonder what the term ‘competition’ means. If we had to show solidarity with each other, there would be no more competitive spirit. Should we somehow reward clubs in difficulty for their bad work?”
He has been widely criticised in German media and online, and other club leaders have also sharply and publicly criticised Watzke for his comments, with Thomas Rottgermann of Fortuna Dusseldorf saying: “I don’t know what made him say that. I think this shows an absolute lack of solidarity. It was neither the right time nor the right content.”
Rottgermann will reportedly seek to hold talks with Watzke. He said: “We NRW [ed. North Rhine-Westphalia] clubs, we are going to talk about the policy anyway, then I will have the opportunity to speak to him about it.”
And Dietmar Hopp of Hoffenheim said that big clubs needed to help smaller clubs. He said: “The time for solidarity is now. The strong help the weak. I hope that this solidarity is the consensus among everyone involved with the Bundesliga.”
Hopp, who is the co-owner of the Tubingen pharmaceutical company CureVac, said the company may be able to deliver a vaccine in the autumn. The company founder and patron of the Bundesliga football club Hoffenheim said: “If the results are positive, we could start clinical tests around early summer.”
The ViralTab page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.