RB Leipzig is currently one of the best teams in the German Bundesliga, but the team hasn’t been making friends along the way. Instead, this franchise is one of the most disliked in Germany.
Rising to the top
In most sports, fans and analysts love a rags to riches story. One where a lowly team can come from the bottom, work its way to the top, and triumph against all the odds. On the face of it, that is what it appears RB Leipzig has achieved in the past decade. The club came from the 5th tier of German soccer, and rose all the way to the Bundesliga, the highest division. To many, they could be seen as the ultimate underdogs, if it were not for just one thing. The ‘RB’ in the team’s name is associated with Red Bull, the drinks manufacturer, and the team is not well received by fans in Germany.
Like an expansion team
The best way to think of RB Leipzig is to consider them as an expansion team in one of the major sporting leagues in the United States. They don’t have any history, but they are just there. That is slightly unfair, because RB Leipzig does have some history, but that was in a former life when the club went by the name SSV Markranstädt.
This team played in the fifth division of German soccer, but with Red Bull backing it, the sky was the limit. Soccer is hugely important in Germany, with teams almost being like the glue that holds cities together. Many of these teams have rich histories of success, and failure, throughout the years. To German soccer fans, the soul of a club was something that Red Bull simply couldn’t buy.
Owned by Red Bull
One of the biggest obstacles to Red Bull buying a soccer team was the ‘50-plus-one’ rule in Germany. This prohibits large businesses and rich businessmen from coming into a club and turning it into their plaything. Soccer clubs are at the core of many German cities, so a club must retain the majority of its shares, to uphold its own voting right.
Red Bull was able to adhere to this rule yet completely take over the franchise through smartly buying its 49% and pricing people out of buying other shares. Another bone of contention for German soccer fans and RB Leipzig is what the ‘RB’ stands for in the club’s name. You’d think because of its association with Red Bull that ‘RB’ means just that, but it doesn’t. Again German law prevents clubs from naming themselves after corporations. So to get around this rule, ‘RB’ stands for RasenBallsport.
While many German fans, and even German Bundesliga teams, will boycott anything to do with RB Leipzig, the team has been successful. Instead of just throwing Red Bull’s money around, the team has invested in young and hungry players as well as infrastructure to lead the rise through the division.
RB Leipzig now not only plays in the Bundesliga but are major contenders to win it for the first time in 2020. This only adds fuel to the fire for non-Leipzig fans though, who would rather their greatest rivals win than the ‘plastic’ fans of this new franchise.