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Interview with the president

Hopfner: What’s happened here is incredible

115 years of FC Bayern! On the German record champions’ anniversary, President Karl Hopfner spoke to Bayern Magazin about the unrelenting appeal of the club and the tasks that lie ahead.

The anniversary interview with Karl Hopfner:

Mr. Hopfner, do you know what the zeppelin, the talkies (movies with dialogue) and FC Bayern have in common?
Good question (laughs). But since FC Bayern’s anniversary is approaching I’d bet they were all founded or created in the year 1900.

Indeed they were. While people think about long gone days with the zeppelin, FC Bayern appears livelier than ever before in its 115-year history, right?
That can’t be emphasized enough. FC Bayern is a modern club through and through, and despite being the same age as the zeppelin is considerably younger and more alive than the zeppelin. The talkies, in turn, have improved a little bit over the last 115 years (laughs).

The first presidents of FC Bayern were a Prussian from Berlin, Franz John, and a Dutchman, Willem Hesselink. What do you say to that as a native of Munich?
I think the place of birth is not the deciding factor for the presidency. But there were plenty of great presidents that came from Munich, when just think about both our honorary presidents Kurt Landauer and Franz Beckenbauer.

What do you wish for on our club’s anniversary as president?
For now, the health of all our members and fans; they build the foundation on which FC Bayern stands. In terms of sports, I wish for – because the match falls on the anniversary – a home victory in the Bundesliga against FC Köln and going through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in early March.

Since this past fall, FC Bayern is the biggest club in the world with over 250,000 members. What does that mean to you?
By now we have well over 255,000 members.  All the more reason why it gives me great pride that the number continues to grow. Our inboxes are full of membership applications – the demand is unabated.

Is there a number of members at which point the administrative effort would no longer be able to support?
No, not at all. That’s a matter of manpower, which FC Bayern is glad to fulfill as the biggest club in the world. At our club, we will never fail to process an inquiry; FC Bayern is delighted with each new member.

You yourself have made major contributions to the development of FC Bayern and have been involved with the club for over 30 years. Do you pinch yourself sometimes driving down Säbener Strasse thinking about your beginnings in 1983?
It really is impressive what’s happened here. When I first started with FC Bayern, the club had the glory years in the 70s behind them and was a very successful football club. But the commercial development was only introduced a few years later. What’s happened here at Säbener Strasse through our own funds – without credits, loans, or mortgages – is an incredible accomplishment.

What are the next tasks for a successful future for FC Bayern?
The next big step is to press ahead with the youth development center at Ingolstädter Strasse in north Munich; we’ve been working diligently on that. We have the first big concepts and necessary permits from the City of Munich. The youth development center that we’ll build there over the next few years will be in line with modern demands and ensure that youth players will play a prominent role in the FC Bayern first team for years to come. We hope to begin construction this year.

In the summer there will be another anniversary to celebrate: 10 years Allianz Arena. Will this also be celebrated accordingly at FC Bayern?
I can only assume so. The Allianz Arena is a success story that is yet to be rivaled.  We’ve had sell-out crowds for over ten years. In addition, in that time the arena has been completely paid off and it’s now wholly owned by the club – it can’t get better than that.

And what do Franz Beckenbauer (70) and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (60) get for their milestone anniversaries in the fall?
If we were to announce that a half a year in advance, it would spoil the surprise. But I can tell you this much: when two great figures like Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge celebrate milestone anniversaries, it’s a cause to celebrate for the whole of FC Bayern. And we will do just that.