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SPORTS

St. Pauli Denies Use of its Stadium for Leipzig’s Cup Game

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — German soccer club St. Pauli has refused the use of its stadium for a German Cup game because Leipzig is one of the teams involved.

Leipzig, the defending champion, was drawn at Hamburg-based FC Teutonia Ottensen in the first round.

The fourth-tier club’s 5,000-capacity ground is unsuitable for the game on Aug. 31 because artificial grass is not permitted in the cup, so it asked its bigger neighbor if it could use its Millerntor Stadium to host the match.

But St. Pauli, which plays in the second division and has played in the Bundesliga before, turned down Teutonia’s application on principle against Leipzig’s business model and due to concerns that allowing the Red Bull-backed team to play in its stadium would lead to protests from its own fans.

St. Pauli spokesman Patrick Gensing told The Associated Press on Friday that the club did not want to elaborate on the reply it had sent Teutonia, which was quoted in depth by the local Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

“It’s well-known that St. Pauli takes an extremely critical view of the RB model because we believe it’s incompatible with the 50+1 rule, which we are committed to,” St. Pauli wrote to Teutonia, according to the Hamburger Abendblatt.

Leipzig was only formed in 2009 when Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, a 78-year-old Austrian billionaire, bought a local fifth-tier team and rebranded it with the company’s livery. Red Bull then financed the new team’s steady promotion through the lower leagues to the Bundesliga in 2016.

German soccer’s 50+1 rule is designed to prevent outside investors from taking over a club by keeping most voting rights with its members. But Leipzig gets around the rule by preventing regular fans from becoming voting members. All its voting members are connected to the Red Bull company.

“The RB model is also strongly rejected among our fans and supporters,” St. Pauli wrote. “FC St. Pauli therefore does not want to give RB a stage beyond possible mandatory games, especially not at the Millerntor, which stands as a symbol of solidarity and fairer football.”

It’s not the first time Leipzig has encountered opposition because of its business model. German Cup finalist Freiburg refused to allow the use of its crest or logo for any joint potential merchandising endeavors with Leipzig ahead of the final in May.

Teutonia is looking for an alternative venue to host the game.

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