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Model airplanes, tennis balls disrupt Bundesliga games as protests continue

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BERLIN (AP) — Model airplanes were flown onto the field during Eintracht Frankfurt's 3-3 draw with Freiburg in the Bundesliga on Sunday as fans continued their protests against an outside investor.

Tennis balls later interrupted defending champion Bayern Munich's loss at Bochum.

The matches are just the latest subjected to delays and interruptions as supporters showed their opposition to the German soccer league's controversial plan to sell a stake in the Bundesliga's media rights income to an outside investor.

Bochum fans threw the tennis balls onto the field forcing an early halt to play. As soon as they were cleared, Bayern supporters flung more tennis balls from their section, leading referee Daniel Schlager to tell both teams to return to their locker rooms. The fans also chanted against the German soccer league (DFL) with an expletive. The game resumed some 13 minutes later.

Frankfurt's game had barely started when fans threw confectionery on the field to force a stoppage.

There was another hold-up after the break when at least two small remote-controlled airplanes were flown onto the field and more confectionery was thrown from behind one of the goals.

"No to investors in the DFL!" read a huge banner behind the goal.

Referee Tobias Stieler took both teams off the field and supporters were warned the game could be called off.

Frankfurt forward Sasa Kalajdzic had to go off early with an apparent knee injury sustained off-the-ball after the first interruption. He reappeared later on crutches.

Egypt forward Omar Marmoush scored with Frankfurt's first shot in the 27th, only for Ritsu Doan to respond with the equalizer three minutes later.

But Marmoush wasn't done yet, setting up substitute Ansgar Knauff to score with Frankfurt’s second shot in the 35th.

Vincenzo Grifo equalized with a penalty before the break. The protests resumed after it.

Marmoush set up Knauff again in the 72nd, but Michael Gregoritsch equalized for the visitors' third time in the 89th. Gregoritsch also had an effort cleared off the line as both teams went for the win in a frenetic finale.

There were also protests in the second division earlier, with Nuremberg fans interrupting their team's game against Kaiserslautern by entering the inner stadium area to show banners denouncing the proposed deal directly behind one of the goals. The match resumed after several minutes when they were convinced to return to their places.

Friday and Saturday's games were also plagued by protests, which followed disruptions to the previous weekend's matches across the first and second divisions.

Many fans want the DFL's proposed deal scrapped entirely as they are worried about the influence any investor could have on the league. As a first step, many are calling for the December vote that narrowly approved the deal to be re-run, this time with club executives' voting publicly.


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