Hainer: Our profile brings responsibility
Herbert Hainer has turned the page on an eventful first chapter of his term in office. The chairman of the supervisory board and president of FC Bayern draws a two-fold conclusion and says which way the club is heading in a world that is changing faster than ever. The full interview (in German) appears in our members' magazine, "51".
An interview with Herbert Hainer
Herr Hainer, Bayern president as a job sounds like a childhood dream for many, but does it stand up to the scrutiny of practical experience? What does it feel like, to be in the public's gaze, working for this team?
"In the time since I started, I have become accustomed to the emotions and the public eye in which FC Bayern stands. Even after six months, it is still an incredibly great feeling for a football-mad person like me, who has always loved this club. It's an exciting task – but it's also a lot of work. That's something you should not underestimate. The entire club is coping very well with the coronavirus pandemic crisis; the board of directors headed by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, in conjunction with the executive committee and supervisory board, is very strong and flexible, the basketball GmbH with Marko Pešić at the helm is working very responsibly, and all employees are pulling together in the best interests of FC Bayern."
Who is your player of the season?
"It's hard to single out one person in this great team, they were all sensational. But the development of Alphonso Davies has given me a lot of pleasure. A little over a year ago, nobody knew Alphonso Davies, but now he is delighting our fans all over the world. A real hit: he is absolutely top-class on the pitch and with his young, fresh manner, he is well on the way to becoming a popular figure. The boy makes us very happy."
The second team have also really kicked on after the coronavirus break in the 3. Liga...
"This development is sensational. Coach Sebastian Hoeneß and his team deserve the greatest respect for the fact that we won the third tier. More and more talent is knocking on the first team's door, our academy work is increasingly becoming a great source of young talent – and about time, because David Alaba was the last to make the leap up to the first team more than ten years ago. You have to pay a huge compliment to Hasan Salihamidžić, who has realigned our academy work together with Jochen Sauer, the head of FC Bayern Campus."
A total of five talented academy players from FC Bayern Campus made their debut in the Bundesliga this season:
What did you make of FCB Women's campaign?
"We are very pleased with the progress. It is our clear goal to knock VfL Wolfsburg off the top and become the number one in German women's football. A lot of work is being done to achieve this, and we have already been able to announce some notable new signings for the upcoming season. I will also be following the Champions League closely – should our team reach the final, I will be there in San Sebastián."
You're a fan of well-intentioned players – is this type of footballer more common than ever in times when socio-political issues are playing such an important role in the sport?
"I think that we have seen many positive examples, especially in the age of coronavirus, and I would like to mention Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka as two. They took the initiative with the "WeKickCorona" project and are also exemplary in their approach to many socio-political issues. Sport is assuming more responsibility regarding social issues, and that is important and right in these times."
To what extent is an initiative like "Reds against Racism" a good example of how a club can work with players to shape their opinions?
"I am very happy that FC Bayern has sent a clear message with this initiative – incidentally, months before the appalling death of George Floyd in the USA. I'm very happy to see how our players are taking part in this campaign and that they have also included the "Black Lives Matter" movement. The attitude of FC Bayern is clear, our values should be visible to fans all around the world: There's not one inch of space available for racism here."
2020 has brought football out of its bubble more than ever – suddenly Donald Trump's politics and a pandemic are playing a role. How much might/should/must a club be political in the present day?
"FC Bayern certainly does not have to contribute its own opinion on every political and social aspect. But there are certain points such as human rights, discrimination, racism, intolerance, where I already believe that we, as FC Bayern, with our profile, have a responsibility to make clear what values we stand for. This is not an imposed political issue, but a question of the basic attitude of the club.
Let us take a look ahead into a world that is changing faster than ever before: old values, proven methods and new ideas – where does FC Bayern's path lie?
"FC Bayern has always been a pioneer in football over the past few decades, and it is our task to ensure that it continues to move forward in the future. The world is changing. Digitalisation, an increased media spectrum and globalisation are key phrases in the context of this enormous growth. In addition, values and the way they are perceived are also undergoing major changes. Many things are rightly being questioned, and more and more topics such as responsibility, sustainability, ecology or even transparency are at stake. We must and we will align FC Bayern to these requirements. This is why, under the leadership of Oliver Kahn, together with our employees and with experts, we have initiated a process to address the medium and long-term future of FC Bayern".
How can FC Bayern reinvent itself, adapt to a changing world, continue to shape it, and at the same time remain FC Bayern?
"We are faced with three fundamental challenges: 1) How do we manage to remain established as a top international club? 2) How do we position ourselves financially for this goal, in line with the previous Bayern philosophy of always observing financial prudence? And 3) the social question: How do we remain accessible, how do we perceive our role in society, how do we do justice to the fans so that we still have a sold-out Allianz Arena in ten years' time? How can we ensure that FC Bayern remains attractive? Nowadays, we need clear structures and content that everyone supports."
Is FC Bayern now more than ever a role model for Europe?
"I think so. This club is incredibly admired – all over the world. It is responsible for doing many things right, both in sport and business. There are very few clubs that can measure up to us in the overall balance. And especially in these coronavirus-afflicted times, we have had a lot of positive feedback from all over the world, saying how nice it is that we have never lost sight of the people who are not doing so well. You are looking at a happy president. I am happy to serve this club."