Sports

A steadfast commitment to entertain

Nothing pompous about this. Nope. Photograph: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The idea that certain values should be upheld no matter the circumstances is one The Fiver has always fought dirty to uphold. Truly great football clubs do likewise. Take Bayern Munich, for example. Seven matches into the Bundesliga season, they would normally have the title wrapped up by now but instead they find themselves sprawled sixth in the table, their chances of winning the league for a 47th consecutive year reclassified from absolutely certain to more or less inevitable. This is a crisis.

But Bayern didn’t become the super-wealthy sporting corporation they are today by losing their senses at the first hint of adversity. Even amid unprecedented criticism of their performances, Bayern remain steadfast in their commitment to entertain. If players are flopping on the pitch, then the club’s suits will take up the slack. On Friday, they put on a heck of a show.

The German hackery was expecting something special when a press conference was convened by Bayern’s top three blazers, chief suit Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and blowhard Uli Hoeness. Immediately, there was speculation that Bayern were about to announce the dismissal of manager Niko Kovac or confirm rumours that Arsène Wenger was being drafted in to help put the so-called failure into context. But it soon became clear that Bayern are concerned not so much about their own difficulties but about what forthright criticism of their players is doing to the overall tone of football discourse.

Rummenigge began by quoting from Article 1 of the German constitution: “Human dignity is unimpeachable,” he lectured, complaining that some observers have been too “degrading” in their assessment of certain players, adding that language should be “respectful” and individuals should not be singled out in a team sport. “Today is an important day as we inform you that we will no longer tolerate this derogatory and derisive reporting,” continued Rummenigge.

That all proved to be the perfect tee-up for Hoeness, who then answered a question about the summer sale of Juan Bernat to PSG by explaining: “When we played in Sevilla last season [in Big Cup], he was single-handedly responsible for us nearly getting eliminated … I would have liked to hear commentators say how sh!t he played.” This is the same Hoeness, remember, who himself declared in the summer that Mesut Özil “has been playing sh!t for years”. So the former convict certainly can’t be accused of hypocrisy.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It is truly fitting to mark Joe Hart’s outstanding contribution to Manchester City in such a visible way” – Man City chief suit Khaldoon al-Mubarak dedicates a training pitch to their former keeper, who became invisible as soon as Pep turned up.

Joe Hart, wearing shoes from Back To The Future 2, at his very own training pitch. Photograph: Manchester City Football Club/PA

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