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Thu 22 Jan 2015 02:00 PM

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Bayern Munich apologises for failing to condemn Saudi flogging

German football giant fails to voice its opposition during visit to Gulf kingdom for friendly match last weekend

Bayern Munich apologises for failing to condemn Saudi flogging
Head coach Pep Guardiola of Muenchen attends a press conference prior to the friendly match between Al Hilal and Bayern Muenchen in Riyadh. (Getty Images)

Bayern Munich apologised on Wednesday after failing to voice their support for an activist who was flogged in Saudi Arabia during their trip last week.

The Bundesliga champions, a leading global football brand, played a friendly game against Al-Hilal in Riyadh on Saturday in a one-day trip to Saudi Arabia organised by a club sponsor.

It coincided with the uproar over the flogging in the country of activist and blogger Raif Badawi.

"Bayern Munich as a club condemns any form of gruesome punishment not in line with human rights such as the case of Islam-critical blogger Raif Badawi," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It would have been better if we had addressed that more clearly in the framework of our game in Saudi Arabia."

Bayern's trip, which also included an eight-day training camp in Qatar, caused a major furore back home.

Several German politicians criticised Bayern for failing to take a clear stand on human rights and turning a blind eye to violations during their trip to the Middle East.

Qatar, the hosts of the 2022 World Cup, has been accused of violating the rights of migrant workers.

Former German Football Association (DFB) chief and outgoing FIFA Executive Comittee member Theo Zwanziger said Bayern had "commercial ethics".

"In case they are in doubt they always take the side of money," Zwanziger told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Rummenigge said Bayern were not a political decision-making body but said they had a responsibility to protect human rights.

"Top German politicians will also travel to Saudi Arabia soon," Rummenigge said.

"We are a football club and not political decision makers but at the end of the day we, including us, are responsible to safeguard human rights."

Bayern are one of the richest clubs in the world, with a turnover of more than 500 million euros ($579.80 million).

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