Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke took another shot at Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig on Monday.
Leipzig, which was founded only seven years ago, beat Dortmund 1-0 in the second round of the season.
“We don’t need this leader,” Watzke said at a meeting of Borussia Dortmund stock holders. “But I tip my hat to their sporting performance.”
Dortmund had a hand in allowing promoted Leipzig to seize the sole lead over the weekend by beating Bayern Munich 1-0. The defeat dropped Bayern three points behind Leipzig, which beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2.
Watzke has been one of the most vocal critics of Leipzig, saying last week the team was playing simply “to promote a canned drink.”
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Leipzig was founded when the Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, a co-founder of the Red Bull energy drink empire, bought a fifth-tier team and rebranded it.
After making the journey from the fifth tier to the top flight, Leipzig is undefeated after 11 matches, a record for a promoted team.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said he thinks Leipzig could even emulate Leicester’s run to the title last season in the Premier League.
“Leipzig is not a one-day wonder. They can be compared to what happened in England last season,” Tuchel said.
Leipzig has been the target of criticism ever since its founding. Many in Germany see it only as a vehicle to promote Red Bull and consider it as an “artificial” club as opposed to the traditional Bundesliga clubs.
Masked assailants threw paint at the team’s bus before the match against Leverkusen. The bus was stoned on another occasion, Leipzig players are routinely mocked and a severed bull’s head was thrown at the field during one match.