Bayern Munich’s fan groups, particularly the ultras, have a long history of using their platform to address socio-political issues, even if they don’t directly relate to the club. In their recent Bundesliga match against SC Freiburg, the ultras once again made their voices heard by displaying banners in the Südkurve (South Curve) section of the stadium. This time, their message focused on the club’s consideration of signing Jerome Boateng due to a shortage of center-backs caused by Matthijs de Ligt’s knee injury.
Boateng has been embroiled in off-pitch legal issues involving two separate women, sparking controversy during his time as a Bayern Munich player and later during his move to Olympique Lyon in Ligue 1. These cases included allegations of domestic violence with a previous partner and the tragic suicide of an ex-girlfriend following their relationship. The banners displayed during the match conveyed a powerful message, stating, “Misogynistic violence is not a private matter! Stand for our proclaimed values — or is our charter and awareness campaign just marketing?”
The club has consistently maintained its stance of keeping Boateng’s off-field matters separate from his performance on the pitch. However, this stance hasn’t resonated well with the majority of Bayern’s ultras. In response to the banners displayed during Bayern’s 3-0 victory over Freiburg, the club’s sporting director, Christoph Freund, offered a response. Freund emphasized that FC Bayern and he personally stand for values, and the decision to consider Boateng’s signing was motivated by recent depth issues in the center-back position due to injuries.
“FC Bayern stands for values. I personally stand for values. It was a special situation; we no longer had any central defenders ten days ago. In the end, we decided together in the end,” Freund stated, according to T-Online’s Julian Buhl.
The issue was not limited to Bayern’s match, as Werder Bremen fans also displayed banners addressing the situation during their match against Hoffenheim. Specifically, they called out Christoph Freund for characterizing Boateng’s domestic violence case as a “private matter” and expressed their displeasure, stating, “Violence against women is not a private matter. Christoph Freund, shut up!”
The controversy surrounding Boateng’s potential signing highlights the ongoing debate between the club’s desire to separate off-field issues from football and the fans’ insistence on addressing broader social and moral concerns within the sport.