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Dirty Tackle

Bayern Munich’s president is unhappy with the lack of competition in the Bundesliga

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

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Uli parks where he wants. (Getty)

With five matches left to play, Bayern Munich have already won the Bundesliga title. They have lost only once this season. Their goal difference is 70. They even went six straight matches without conceding a single goal at one point. And as pleased with themselves as they must be, Bayern president Uli Hoeness says that the way in which they dominated the league this season is cause for concern.

From ESPN:

"There has been a huge dip in the competitiveness of the league and we can't be happy with that," he told Kicker magazine. "We've got to analyze why that is the case." [...]

"We see the need for action," he said. "It is not on that we see such results."

So what kind of action is needed? The Bundesliga's profitable financial model is the envy of the world and its 50+1 rule, which dictates that club members retain 51% ownership of their team, is hailed by everyone worried about the influence of evil billionaires and ignorant foreigners who sully clubs with their greedy whims. But an April 2010 Guardian article notes that Hannover 96 challenged the rule, saying, "The rule means the loss of many Bundesliga clubs' ability to compete nationally and internationally. And in some ways it prevents further development of German football, especially those clubs who play in the lower half of the Bundesliga as they do not have enough financial resources. The ownership rule should be abandoned or modified."

The case went to a court of arbitration, but when the 36 clubs in the top two divisions of German football voted on the matter, 35 were against changing the rule. At that time, the Bundesliga had three different champions in the previous three seasons (Wolfsburg in 2008/09, Bayern in 2007/08 and Stuttgart in 2006/07). This was something Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert was very proud of. From the Guardian:

"In the last three years of the Bundesliga we have three different cup winners and three different champions," Seifert says. "Sepp Herberger, the coach of the West German team that won the 1954 World Cup, said: 'You know why people go to the stadium? Because they don't know how it ends.'"

Again, Bayern Munich have already won the 2012/13 title with five matches left to play and a 20-point lead over second-place Borussia Dortmund (who are eight points ahead of third-place Bayer Leverkusen). So the only thing about the end of a match that people in the stadium don't know is whether Bayern will 6-1 or 9-2 (both actual scorelines from this season, by the way).

Of course, changing the 50+1 rule could put the Bundesliga in the position of other European leagues where the clubs with the richest or most debt-savvy owners win every year. A salary cap wouldn't work because then they would never be able to compete in Europe. So that leaves one option: force each member of Bayern Munich to play every domestic match dressed as the club's mascot, Berni the bear.

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Franck Ribery. (Getty)

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