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Feb 21, 2013

Hopp committed to struggling Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim patron Dietmar Hopp has vowed to persist with his hefty financial backing of the club even if they are to be relegated.

Hopp, one of the most controversial figures in the Bundesliga, has lifted his hometown side from minor-league obscurity to the top flight over the past two decades. Since effectively taking over Hoffenheim in 1989, Hopp has invested some €350 million into the club, €230 million of it into the infrastructure.

After taking the Bundesliga by storm upon their arrival five years ago, over the past few seasons they have declined and this term are facing a tough battle to stay in the league. Recently, rumours surfaced billionaire Hopp was to end his partnership with the club, but he has denied those claims.

"This speculation has no foundation," Hopp told Bild. "Whoever has witnessed what has been built here at Hoffenheim could not come up with such a fanciful idea.

"Even if Hoffenheim get relegated, which I don't believe will happen, [the project] will continue here with great vigour and enthusiasm. Other clubs have been relegated and won promotion again, too.

"My commitment will be unabated. Having said that, it will all of course be in accordance with the FFP [Financial Fair Play] regulations, as it has been for a long time."

Following their promotion to the second tier in 2007, Hoffenheim spent close to €20 million on new players - signing the likes of Luiz Gustavo, Demba Ba, Vedad Ibisevic and Carlos Eduardo - and won promotion that year.

In their first season in the top flight, Hoffenheim won the Herbstmeisterschaft (autumn championship) and were being hailed as a role model by German media. However, fans of the traditional clubs and some officials were quick to point the finger at Hopp and Hoffenheim for failing to abide by the '50+1' rule on club ownership. Hopp quickly became unpopular with football fans of all allegiances.

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