FCB's response to the global coronavirus crisis
The coronavirus crisis began in China and has now spread to every corner of the world. Jörg Wacker, who is responsible for international relations, strategy and merchandising on the FC Bayern board, is confident people will draw lasting conclusions. Ideally, this situation will lead to more understanding for one another, more compassion and more willingness to help - across borders: "Since this crisis affects us all - every individual - the effects will be deeper and last longer. I think people around the world would do well to understand that we should all stick together."
Wacker: FC Bayern family 'not an empty phrase'
Wacker remembers exactly how Rouven Kasper, head of the FC Bayern Shanghai office, informed him at the end of January that a problem was spreading in China: "First there were 500 infections, then after 5 days 5000, then the rate grew exponentially until it was out of control." The first encouragement videos for China were made at the Säbener Straße when the virus was only a marginal topic in the news in Germany - and felt very, very far away. "However, we wanted to show early on that the term 'FC Bayern family' is not an empty phrase," says Wacker. "We wanted to show the people: We stand by you, we won't abandon you. You can rely on us."
How can FC Bayern help people?
The eleven FCB employees and the interns in Shanghai are all healthy, as are their families. One colleague remains stranded in the Wuhan epicentre because he visited his family there, but he is healthy. "The Asian nations are generally more prepared than we Europeans because they have to endure typhoons, earthquakes, epidemics more often," explains Kasper, "they have an emergency plan ready and they carry it out." The coronavirus situation was quickly accepted in the FCB office and the team looked ahead. "We asked ourselves: How can we as FC Bayern help fans and people in general in this difficult time?"
China's Foreign Minister thanks FC Bayern
The team in Shanghai brightened up the everyday lives of all those affected and demonstrated the family spirit embodied by FC Bayern. "This communication from the heart of Bavaria into Chinese society worked very well. It was "Mia san mia" experienced in a critical situation - the way a sports club should do it. The feedback from the population was overwhelming," said Kasper. Among other things, a group of doctors from Wuhan posted a video where they wrote motivational messages and "Mia san mia" on their protective suits – then they sang "Stern des Südens" in the outfit. The video messages from Bayern players were very well received by the Chinese fans. As these clips were not specifically tailored to FCB fans, but to the entire society, they were shared widely. At the security conference in Munich, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi thanked FC Bayern for its social contribution. "As bad as this crisis is: I'm sure it has made the Bayern family stronger - and certainly bigger," added Kasper.
There is a life after coronavirus
The fans in Asia are phenomenal, said the head of the Shanghai office: "They get up in the middle of the night for hundreds of Bayern games. People in Germany often don't realise that. It was great our fans in Asia saw how much FC Bayern would support them when they needed help. The message was clear: you are part of the FC Bayern football family, FC Bayern care about you. Even on a distant continent. We are close." The situation is now easing. "There is a life after the coronavirus, in China and around the world," says Kasper, "but from my experience in Asia: take this seriously!"
Feedback from the US fans to FC Bayern
"It's everyone's job to help calm the situation," said FC Bayern Americas President Rudolf Vidal about the situation in the USA, "we're doing everything we can to protect the health of our employees and their families." Bayern's office in New York ensures that the German record champions stay connected with their supporters in the USA: through video messages from the players to the fan clubs, and through virtual games. "We've received a lot of feedback from the fans asking for something positive about the club they love, so they could keep busy," said Vidal. "Football is a welcome distraction in times of crisis. Even though no games are being played at the moment, we're still here for the Bayern family and we support our fans in this difficult time."
China offers hope
You have to "take things as they come," commented Wacker on the situation. "But it's a hopeful sign that everyday life in China is slowly resuming," said Wacker. "We were delighted for our Chinese employees when their home quarantine was over. Overall, I feel this global crisis is making people all over the world stop and think."
The coronavirus crisis is an enormous challenge for FC Bayern. Board member Oliver Kahn explains the measures the club is taking to our club magazine "51":