Another Bundesliga newcomer is TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (“Hoffenheim”), who upon their arrival to the Bundesliga in 2008, were met with similar controversy to that of RB Leipzig. Coming from a town of 3,000 people, Hoffenheim was formed in 1899 and, until an injection of money, never reached higher than the 5th division of German soccer. That is until 1999 when, former Hoffenheim youth academy player and billionaire founder of the software company SAP, Dietmar Hopp (“Hopp”) purchased the club.
Hopp purchased the club and after 18 years reach the goal of having Hoffenheim competing in the Bundesliga. Non-Hoffenheim fans protested the club’s introduction to the Bundesliga because Hoffenheim, in comparison of other Bundesliga clubs, has no real success before the injection of money and because ‘fan’ ownership is still majority-controlled by Hopp. The 50+1 rule, as it functions, does not limit the action taken by Hopp. In December 2014, the German Football League granted the exception to the 50+1 rule, allowing for Hopp to own the majority of the club.
It is not the first time there have been allowed exceptions to the 50+1 rule, as clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg have similar exceptions. However, it is important to note that Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg, while both corporate owned, have over 100 years of history and Bayer and Volkswagen factory workers created the teams, so the ownership is based in history. Next post we will discuss the exceptions to the 50+1 rule and the history of the clubs Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg.
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