If there was any doubt that the flagrant disregard for football’s patrons continues unabated then the staggering sight of this pitch-side “hospitality” in Doha was confirmation of football’s continued disdain for its lifeblood.
— Terrace Life (@TerraceLife_) January 9, 2014
This particular brand of hospitality came during the friendly match between Sudanese side Al-Merrikh and Bayern Munich on Thursday (which was actually in Doha not Sudan as stated in the above tweet) during what was meant to be Bayern’s winter break.
For fans who wanted a more luxurious experience, they could get it in a reclined seat with table service. While, in itself, a few glammed up seats on the side of the pitch may seem inconsequential, it is what it represents that should be a worry to football purists.
In England, the abolishment of terraces is oft lamented and the campaign to reinstate them is on-going but this latest manifestation of hospitality is indicative of the growing disconnect between fans and their clubs.
It represents the globalisation and bastardisation of a sport that was once firmly rooted in the working classes. Football has its origins in its collective spirit but as money has taken hold of the game fans have suffered, as, chasing money, clubs ignore its key demographic.
There has been a growing level of support in England for the much-mooted winter break to be introduced to allow players some respite from the physical demands of the game – and, as such, to prevent fatigue. But if it is to be exploited in this way then it should be absolutely rejected.
Even aside from the preposterous idea of quaffing whatever tipple was on offer whilst watching a game, Bayern’s trip was a disservice to its fans, and probably to the detriment of Pep Guardiola’s side.
How much of a break was it for Bayern to travel some 2,000 miles to the Qatari capital to play in a friendly against the Sudanese champions? How much will Pep Guardiola have learnt from playing clearly inferior opposition?
Let’s make no bones about it, this was a fiscal decision. Bayern took advantage of their mid-winter break to reap financial rewards from their ever increasing popularity.
Granted, Bayern have a responsibility to cater for all their fans – whether they be German, Qatari or Sudanese but they also have a responsibility to ensure they are best prepared to defend the treble of trophies they won last season and this trip to Qatar is unlikely to do that.
The addition of the luxurious seats just adds to the sense that this was a business and not a football decision.