Bayern dig in for fight over Ribery

Bayern Munich are preparing for a "brutal fight" to stop playmaker Franck Ribery falling into the clutches of would-be suitors like super-rich Manchester City.

Bayern dig in for fight over Ribery
Photo: DPA

“Our aim is to do everything to hold on to Franck,” Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness told Friday’s edition of Bild. “But it’s going to be a brutal fight – some clubs are going to table offers.”

Reports in England this week suggested Premier League side City were planning to swoop for Ribery and his fellow Frenchman, Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, at the end of the season.

City, who failed in their audacious bid to buy AC Milan’s Kaka in January, are determined to mount a sustained challenge on the English Premier League next season and have identified the French international as one of their key targets.

Other clubs likely to be interested in Ribery’s services are Barcelona, Real Madrid and possibly Chelsea. But Bayern warned Friday that they were not about to let their prize jewel go without a struggle.

“The most important thing is to show that we know what we want and that we indicate that we want to keep him because if there’s the slightest doubt his agents will try their luck,” Hoeness said.

He added, “Franck and his family feel very comfortable with us here, but it’s obvious that his agents are potentially interested in a transfer.”

He went on to identify one factor that could trigger Ribery’s exit from Jürgen Klinsmann’s side, namely a lack of what he termed “prospects” in the quest for a European title.

“But I don’t see any case of that at Bayern,” ahead of Bayern’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Barcelona.

With money seemingly no object for City’s new Middle Eastern owners Hoeness concluded the interview by suggesting there was no sum which might tempt Bayern enough to contemplate losing one of their best players.

Ribery joined the Bundesliga giants from Marseille in July 2007 for 26 million euros. He quickly found his feet to become the talismanic leader of Bayern’s midfield.

At the start of the year, Ribery hinted he would be prepared to leave Bayern, but the 25-year-old later issued a reversal insisting he will fulfill his contract, which expires in June 2011.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spelled out this month precisely what Ribery meant to the side. “He is a crowd favourite, one of those players the supporters love, because he represents spectacular football and is synonymous with success.”

For members


EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.