Bayern Munich Fans call the shots

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Updated: July 24, 2011

You may have already heard about the situation at Bayern Munich, Germany’s biggest club, regarding their new 18M euro signing, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who joined from Bundesliga rivals Schalke. Bayern managed to clinch the signature of the German stopper despite interest from many of Europe’s other leading clubs, but Neuer must have questioned that decision several times since.

Five of the ultras fans groups that occupy the south stand of the Allianz Arena issued an astonishing list of demands to Neuer. Among them, that he not join in chants with the fans, throw his shirt into the crowd, or kneel before them. The reason for their attitude towards him is that he is a self confessed Schalke fan. One banner made reference to the fact that he would never be accepted, no matter how well he played, There have been some reconciliatory talks since, but Neuer must surely have thought about making his stay with Bayern a short one.

While rivalries are an inevitable and usually healthy part of football, it’s difficult to imagine the Bayern Ultras won’t be cheering their new keeper once he puts in the kind of performances that convinced the club to part with so much money.

Kenny Miller is a shining example of a man who either has no concerns for traditional deep-seated hatred, or is a ruthless mercenary willing to switch allegiances at the drop of a hat for whichever team can offer him more moolah. Either way, his moves across the fierce Glasgow Old Firm divide, albeit with other employers in between, have made said divide seem less gaping. Though Miller received abuse from his own fans after signing for Rangers for the second time, he wasn’t subject to anything close to the level of abuse Celtic Manager Neil Lennon faced last season. Kenny scored freely and celebrated accordingly for both clubs, and he has made noises about another return to Rangers, so any abuse he received can’t have been too traumatising.

Extreme behaviour by any fans inevitably hurts the club they support the most, through fines, bad publicity, away bans etc, but that seems to be farthest from their minds. By even attempting to negotiate with groups that hold such views, Bayern have only legitimised them, and in doing so, given them a sense of entitlement.

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