Eintracht Frankfurt: Martin Hinteregger in need of explanation

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Of: Daniel Schmitt, Ingo Durstewitz


Martin Hinteregger – the somewhat different professional. © Revierfoto / Imago Images

Fiasco instead of football festival: Eintracht professional Martin Hinteregger is in the headlines because he had a business relationship with a right-wing extremist.

Frankfurt – The tranquil little town of Sirnitz in Austria has less than 300 inhabitants, so everyone knows everyone inside out, and vice versa, one might think – according to Martin Hinteregger, who grew up and is still at home in the village in Carinthia at the age of 29 however, this is not entirely the case. In any case, he, the soccer professional from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt, has “no knowledge of past or future activities on the part of the Sickl family”.

The Sickl family, also from Sirnitz, is not entirely unknown in Austria. Elisabeth Sickl, now 82 years old, was once a member of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) in the Carinthian state parliament and later even became a federal minister. Her son, ex-FPÖ councilor Heinrich Sickl, also embarked on a political career path and is said to have a clear affinity with the right-wing milieu.

Eintracht Frankfurt: Martin Hinteregger organizes a fiasco instead of a football festival

Which leads straight to the problem: Martin Hinteregger and Heinrich Sickl have planned a hobby football tournament together, the “Hinti Cup”. The current status of the event announced for June 16th and 19th: fiasco instead of football festival. Until yesterday, Hinteregger was in a business relationship with Sickl junior. Research by freelance journalist Michael Bonvalot uncovered this.

Accordingly, Sickl is an equal shareholder in “Hinti Event GmbH”, through which the defender organized the hobby tournament as a further shareholder. “The GmbH was founded by three equal partners, each of whom brought in 12,000 euros: Martin Hinteregger, a restaurateur – and FPÖ man Heinrich Sickl,” writes Bonvalot. With the “Hinti-Cup”, for which musical acts are also planned, the Frankfurt European Cup winner wanted to thank his fans for their support. The Albeck Castle, which is owned by Elisabeth Sickl, should also be a venue.

Martin Hinteregger from Eintracht Frankfurt defends himself in a statement

In a statement published on Thursday afternoon on Instagram, Hinteregger firmly defended himself against allegations of right-wing radicalism. It was “incredible” that an unknown, unnamed Michael Bonvalot, would say such things about him. Both he and the Sickl family are rooted in Sirnitz, so it is “obvious” to use the Albeck Castle property as a location. And further: He just wanted to organize a football tournament, “nothing more”.

Hinteregger broke off the business relationship with Heinrich Sickl after the article was published, and it was said that the tournament would also be checked. Hinteregger concluded in his statement: “I clearly reject accusations that I am right-wing and will continue to work against any kind of discrimination.” Meanwhile, Sickl announced that the media allegations were a democratic-political scandal and affected him. He spoke of hate speech against himself, which he strongly rejects as a person and as a politically active citizen.

The world was still intact then: Peter Fischer (right) with the trophy, Martin Hinteregger with the medal – now the player is causing an uproar again.  imago images
The world was still intact then: Peter Fischer (right) with the trophy, Martin Hinteregger with the medal – now the player is causing an uproar again. © Jan Huebner / Imago Images

As mentioned, it was the journalist Bonvalot who got the ball rolling. The reporter, who has also published in the “Spiegel”, the ORF and the “Wiener Zeitung”, among others, has been following Heinrich Sickl’s doings for many years. “He is a right-wing extremist with the closest connection to neo-fascism,” says Bonvalot in an interview with FR. Sickl is very well known in Austria, at least on the political stage. “Anyone who knows about politics will have heard of him. He belongs to the second row of the FPÖ,” says the journalist. He equates the FPÖ, about which he published a book in 2017 (“Party of the Rich”), with the German AfD. “It’s the same soup.”

Bonvalot is unable to say why Hinteregger, who according to the author, like Eintracht, received a request for a statement 24 hours before the article was published, which went unanswered, entered into business dealings with Sickl. “They’re not really childhood friends, maybe the connection comes about through the father. I can only guess.” One thing is clear to him: “Sirnitz is a small town. Everyone knows each other there.”

The cause is particularly explosive because Hinteregger’s employer is Eintracht. The club is rightly proud of its cosmopolitan attitude. 30 years ago, the fans expressed their anti-racist attitude with the “United Colors of Bembeltown” campaign shirt. The current team also has 16 different nations in the squad.


Causa Hinteregger: An ominous amalgamation

And then of course there is the President, Peter Fischer, the model of German professional football when it comes to the fight against anti-Semitism and racism. It was not until the end of May that the 66-year-old called out to the guests at an event in Hanau, the “Evening of Democracy”: “I want to radicalize you, to be louder against the scumbags from the right.”

Fischer, who was awarded the Fair Play Prize in German sport and the renowned Buber-Rosenzweig medal, has been vocal for the values ​​of Eintracht in public for years, took on the AfD with much attention and showed a clear edge after the right-wing terrorist Hanau attack. In any case, the majority of the Frankfurt fan scene can be assigned to the left spectrum. The ultras in particular are said to be in turmoil after Hinteregger’s connection to FPÖ man Sickl became known.

Martin Hinteregger: End of career – or change to Eintracht Frankfurt

It’s no secret that Martin Hinteregger is a somewhat different professional footballer. He sometimes drives a fan home or invites him home for a cool blonde. He likes to go around the houses, dips his winner’s medal in the beer and licks it off. He staggers across the street and flies a helicopter the next day – with himself as the pilot at the controls. In Augsburg he came to training with the Eintracht backpack, staggered through a festival in the old town in the training camp, he writes books in which a lot revolves around alcohol. He threatened FCA manager Stefan Reuter that he would end his career if he didn’t let him go to Frankfurt.

At Eintracht, too, a lot has recently revolved around the defender. The club first suggested that he leave this summer, and Hinteregger has already been offered it on the market. After a conversation with head coach Oliver Glasner, the 29-year-old was supposed to stay, which he was happy about, but then backed off in the media (“A lot went haywire this year”). So now the business involvement of Hinteregger with Sickl. The drop that breaks the camel’s back?

Eintracht waited until 5:45 p.m. on Thursday before issuing a statement. She had previously tried in vain to reach Hinteregger and was only able to speak to his advisor. That gives a deep insight. The club had no knowledge of the content and form of the business relationship between Hinteregger and Sickl, the “Hinti Cup” was “planned and designed completely independently and on its own”. “The business and legal proximity to a representative of the right-wing political spectrum in Austria that has now come to light requires clear distancing,” wrote the association, which stands for tolerance, cosmopolitanism and internationality. “This attitude has become a clear guiding principle of the club in recent decades” and is a “non-negotiable basic principle”.

Anyone who wears the Eintracht jersey cannot enter into a conscious business relationship with a person who stands for exclusion, discrimination, racism and social division. However, Eintracht have no doubts that Hinteregger is true to his homeland, but also a cosmopolitan and tolerant character “to whom discrimination is alien”.

How are things going with Hinteregger at Eintracht? The Frankfurters did not comment on this, but one thing is clear: the tablecloth is cut, the club would love to give the player away, too much has happened and too much money is at stake. At some point the barrel will overflow. (Daniel Schmitt, Ingo Durstewitz)

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