On Bayern’s ambiguous relationship with Qatar as they played Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Without doubt the defeat against Paris Saint-Germain was painful as possibly avoidable for Bayern as Ancelotti fielded an untested starting XI against the Parisians. He probably could have imagined a better, more successful return to the Parc des Princes. There is however a deeper layer to this match, one that goes beyond the pitch and aims right at the centre of the two clubs. Their business models could not be more different.
Bayern pride themselves to have one of the biggest bank accounts in football. True, the German behemoth are one of the few clubs without debt in world football. They belong to the footballing elite for almost 50 years now and can be labelled old money. Their network is built around former players who still are in charge of the club’s affairs.
Paris on the other hand are unquestionably new money. Their network is an illustrious collection of former players and recruited international talent which very much reflects the international side of Paris as a city.
They have been bought by a consortium headed by the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) in the summer of 2011 and had their coffers filled with petro dollars since then. It turned the fortunes around for the club. The decade preceeding the takeover, PSG made losses but since 2011 they have become one of the most lucrative clubs, currently the 13 most valuable club. In the past season they recorded €500m in revenue. This meant that players like David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and lately Neymar Jr. either have graced the pitch at the Parc des Princes or are currently the short of the Paris’s biggest club.
The latest addition to the squad is Neymar who came from Barcelona for a reported €222m. This immense amount of money has put everything else on the transfer market in the shadow. There is just no precedent. Of course, the critics were plentiful and they had a point. The money is crazy and give the impression that the transfer market is heating up, this increasing the possibility of a bubble that is about the burst.
Among the critics were Bayern. This is problematic.
Bayern apply double standards: they criticize the Neymar deal as it distorts the transfer market and surely violates Financial Fair Play. At the same time they have no problem to accept sponsorship from the airport of Doha, which is the capital city of Qatar. The deal is said to bring the club €7m per year. Bayern have the most expensive shirt sleeves in the Bundesliga as the logo of Doha Airport is on the upper arm. Also, Qatar is now the biggest foreign stakeholder of Bayern Munich investing €60m per year. After Barcelona, the tiny country now happily invests in German football.
Of course, this all fits very well with the image campaign launched by Qatar to improve its reputation and portray itself as an open country. This is important because in less than five years, FIFA’s prime cash cow, the World Cup will be held on the Arabian peninsula.
Bayern may be critical of the move of Neymar to the City of Light, yet they should not forget that they have business going themselves with the same state that has bankrolled the transfer. Though on a smaller level, but nonetheless they are happy to accept the money without further questions. Moreover, they have spent their training camp during the winter break in the little state, increasing the profile even more.
Their criticism backfired as even their own fans are critical of the origin of the money. Bayern therefore should aim to get their house in order before hitting out at others.
With the defeat and more importantly the nature of the defeat and with Ancelotti sacked, they have some cleaning up to do.