Strange behavior from Boateng: FC Bayern escapes the violent confrontation

Strange behavior from Boateng
FC Bayern escapes the violent confrontation

By Tobias Nordmann

In the end, things probably got a little too tricky for FC Bayern too. They let Jérôme Boateng train on Säbener Straße for six days, repeatedly emphasizing the presumption of innocence – only to turn things around again.

Matthijs de Ligt threatened to miss FC Bayern for weeks. Bad news for the people of Munich. If that were to happen, the last and only alternative in the record champions’ central defense would collapse. That made it clear: Coach Thomas Tuchel, with his constant and loud complaints about the squad being too “thin”, was only expressing an unpleasant truth, that of the club’s transfer policy not being well balanced. This was overshadowed by the gigantic transfer of superstar Harry Kane in the summer.

The club wanted to react, correct the summer’s failure and strike on the transfer market. It is known to be closed. At least for players in permanent employment. But not for job seekers. One of them is Rio world champion Jérôme Boateng. He returned to the record champions as a training guest. To the place where he celebrated the greatest successes of his career. When he won the Champions League twice, became German champion countless times and was then chased off the court. And now he won’t wear the jersey again. The record champions announced on Friday evening that Boateng would not receive a contract.

“Personal situation” is easing

“Dayot Upamecano and Min-Jae Kim can now play without pain again, and Matthijs de Ligt is also on the mend, so the personnel situation in central defense has eased,” the club said in a statement. “Looking at all aspects, FC Bayern has now decided not to sign Jérôme Boateng.”

Would he actually have been an enrichment in terms of sport? Not clear. The Munich team had nothing but praise for his fitness in their cancellation notice. He hadn’t played a role at his last club, Olympique Lyon, for a long time. The club’s former sporting director, Juninho, described the signing as a “mistake” in January 2023. The decision-makers in Munich, on the other hand, at least seemed convinced that he could be very useful as a squad addition. At FC Bayern they could probably have lived with it if the discussions had only turned in this direction. But they didn’t. The training intermezzo was accompanied by completely different sounds, which didn’t make the club look good either.

The court proceedings as loud accompanying music

Because the personnel played on two levels. The sporting event was dominated by the current performance of the 35-year-old footballer. There can only be an answer to this on the pitch. The second level is legal and moral. It is a highly explosive one. Because Boateng is being tried because of allegations of violent attacks on his ex-girlfriend. The Bavarian Supreme Court has just overturned a conviction of the 2014 world champion due to blatant legal errors “in its entirety”. However, the process is being reopened – and is likely to cause a lot of undesirable nuances.

In November last year, Boateng was convicted of bodily harm in an appeal process. The Munich I Regional Court imposed a fine of 120 daily rates of 10,000 euros each, a total of 1.2 million euros. This means: If the decision becomes final, the 2014 soccer world champion will have a criminal record. “For us, the facts have been more than proven,” said judge Andreas Forstner at the time. The court found it proven that Boateng beat, injured and insulted his then partner while they were on vacation in the Caribbean in 2018. Boateng was convicted of bodily harm in two cases and only one case in the first instance.

Parallels to the Rubiales case

Even in the days when Boateng was only a training guest, there was a lot of debate about what a transfer would mean. The “Spiegel”, for example, wrote that violence against women was trivialized. The “Sportschau” drew parallels to the Luis Rubiales case, which has rocked the football world in recent months. The then president of the Spanish Football Association, who has since resigned, forced a kiss on world champion Jennifer Hermoso in her greatest moment, the award ceremony after the final – and thus triggered a scandal.

FCB supervisory board member Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had explained the forced kiss with the words “absolutely okay, with all due respect” and thus agreed with Rubiales’ behavior. “In principle, the women’s statements disrupt clubs and athletes’ ability to earn money,” wrote the “Sportschau” in an angry commentary entitled “Violence against women is not a private matter.” The possible transfer was also generally not well received in fan circles. Often with the same tenor. Massive protests at the game against SC Freiburg were planned for the weekend if the deal had gone through.

The club once again put its relationship with the supporters to a tough test. The sponsorship of Qatar Airways led to major disagreements. The subsequent contract with “Visit Rwanda” is also a source of division in the relationship with the appendix. And now Boateng. And even more so the questionable handling of personnel.

Choice of words seemed very unfortunate

“Sporting considerations play a role first and foremost,” said sports director Christoph Freund. The assault case is “currently suspended, and that’s why it’s his private story and not a big issue for us.” “The presumption of innocence” applies. The choice of words seemed very unfortunate because it mocks the accusations that are still in the air. Because the player is actually not relieved. Tuchel wasn’t much happier. The coach confessed that he understands discussions among the fans: “The presumption of innocence still applies when proceedings are suspended. That is the case at the moment. Because that is the case, we as a football club have the right to make football decisions.”

You have “the right to let a deserving player, like Jérôme, train with the club where he had these successes. That simply has to be possible.” You can see it like this. But also: Doesn’t it have to be possible for FC Bayern to wait until the proceedings against Boateng are completed? Just a reminder: the court did not accept the allegations against the player, it only recognized legal errors. This means that a new conviction of the footballer is still a realistic scenario. Sure, the club is in a sporty mood. The fact that the transfer market will open again in twelve weeks is hardly a prospect that causes much satisfaction. Too many important weeks ahead. But is the need really so great to attach such a delicate personality to Boateng? FC Bayern has answered the question for itself – and is avoiding violent confrontations with its own supporters and in the public discussion.

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