Eight years have passed since the members of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim e.V. passed the resolution at their meeting on 9 February 2015 to transfer the majority of the voting rights in TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Fußball-Spielbetriebs GmbH to Dietmar Hopp. This was made possible by an exemption from the so-called “50+1” rule laid down in the statutes of the German Football League (DFL) and the German Football Association (DFB), which was granted by the board of the league association on 18 December 2014 and confirmed by the DFB presidium a few days later. This rule stipulates that the majority of voting rights must be held by the parent club.
The granting of an exemption from the 50+1 rule was in recognition of Dietmar Hopp’s significant financial commitment over more than 20 years to professional, amateur and grassroots sport at the club.
“It was never about power for me,” says Dietmar Hopp. “I always considered the privileges that the league association and members granted me back then as a sign of appreciation for my commitment. I am still grateful for that today,” explains the 82-year-old TSG shareholder, who stresses: “We have always acted in the spirit of 50+1, both before and after the granting of the exemption. The special status never served to undermine or subvert this rule.” Hopp also notes that “my majority shareholder status has always caused mistrust and hostility. I know that the 50+1 rule, which I have always supported, has special significance in German football.”
The issue has again been the subject of increased contention in recent months. This culminated in proceedings at the Federal Cartel Office. “All of this has now prompted me to want to give up the special status granted to me and return to the state of affairs from before 1 July 2015, when we were also able to work together successfully and in a spirit of trust,” explains Hopp. To this end, the procedural requirements will be met in the next few days and final questions regarding the liquidation will be clarified with the participating bodies, institutions and financial authorities. The measure does not entail an outflow of capital.
“For me, it was always a matter of course to take all important decisions in unison and in agreement with the club. I not only had a close friendship with President Peter Hofmann, who unfortunately passed away much too young. I always had great respect for his work, which, just as with his successor, Kristian Baumgärtner, always reflected the will of the members,” says Dietmar Hopp. “In the wake of the discussions, it is now important for me to create clear structures for TSG in accordance with the applicable regulations, to which I have always felt committed.”
“As extraordinary as the decision was at the time, the step now announced by Dietmar Hopp of wanting to relinquish his special status is just as significant. That says a lot about the person. Everyone in the club, in the region and beyond knows what we have to thank Dietmar Hopp for, and not just in football,” said TSG club boss Kristian Baumgärtner, paying tribute to the multifaceted work of Hopp, who will continue to support the club. “Here at TSG, it’s all about educating young people, both in sporting and human terms. The infrastructure and energy that we have been able to dedicate to this cause for several decades are solely down to Dietmar Hopp’s support,” adds Baumgärtner.