Bundesliga side Hoffenheim will again be compliant with German football’s ‘50+1’ ownership rule after club benefactor Dietmar Hopp announced on Wednesday he is returning his voting rights.
The rule, nicknamed 50+1 and enshrined in the German FA (DFB) regulations, requires that all Bundesliga clubs wholly or partly own the team, thereby ruling out external or foreign control.
Hoffenheim was one of three clubs to have received an exception to this rule alongside Volkswagen-controlled Wolfsburg and Bayer-controlled Leverkusen.
In a statement published on the club’s website on Tuesday, Hopp said he was always in favour of the club rather than owner control and had “acted in the spirit of 50+1”.
“It was never about power for me,” said Hopp, who co-founded German software giant SAP.
“Our special status was never used to undermine or avoid this regulation.
“The 50+1 regulation, which I have always supported, is a high asset in German football.”
The billionaire, who grew up in the region and played for Hoffenheim as a teenager, is a long-time financial supporter of the side.
The 50+1 rule, unique among the major European leagues, is wildly popular among German football fans but has come up for criticism recently.
The German Federal Cartel Office has previously indicated support for the regulation but has criticised the exception.
The DFB has previously said it was hoping to find a solution to the issue by the end of March.
Earlier in February, former Bayern Munich CEO and current board member Uli Hoeness called for the DFB to scrap the rule to allow for further outside investment so that German clubs could compete with other European heavyweights.
Speaking on behalf of Bayern, Hoeness said “we would be totally in favour of scrapping the 50+1 because we are falling behind internationally.”
Bayern, which currently sits atop the league table, has won the last ten Bundesliga titles in succession and has lifted the Champions League trophy twice in that time.