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The big questions for 2021: Part 1

Rummenigge: ‘I really hope 2021 will soon bring solutions’

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2020 has been a challenging year for FC Bayern with the coronavirus pandemic, but the club has overcome everything to win the second treble in its history. It means the bar for the coming months is high. Going into 2021, leading figures at Germany’s record champions spoke to club magazine “51” about what’s to come. In the first of seven parts, we sat down with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Interview with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Herr Rummenigge, what are the biggest challenges going to be for German and international football in 2021?
Rummenigge:
“That’s easy because football is like all other areas of life. The biggest challenge is COVID-19 and the consequences of this pandemic. The economic damage is enormous, but our industry is even more seriously affected by the fact that our fans aren’t allowed into stadiums because of this virus. Because at the end of the day, it’s about exciting people. I really hope 2021 will soon bring solutions, for football but above all for society as a whole.”

Who in the industry is coming through the crisis better overall, who worse?
“The Bundesliga on the whole has dealt relatively well with this crisis. We developed a concept and strategy early on. Our restart last spring drew attention from around the world. That was important as a sign that things are moving forward. The economic damage is more severe for the bigger clubs because they have higher running costs. For example, there has still been no correction in the salary structure for the top players. Those who reach for the top shelf still have to accept spending a lot. On the other hand, transfer spending has halved compared to previous years. We’re not experiencing absurd sums like we did two years ago, and I doubt whether the amounts will ever reach such dimensions again. In principle, that’s good because very few fans had any understanding for those astronomical sums. Neither did we at FC Bayern, by the way, which is why we have stayed away from it all as far as possible.”

How much do you long for the Allianz Arena to be full of spectators again?
“I think the whole world is waiting for the vaccine and hopes it will bring back a certain normality. We at FC Bayern constantly adapt our hygiene concepts. We are constantly striving to optimise, to be ready for when the time comes that it’s once again possible to visit the stadium without worrying about your health. Predictions are difficult. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll once again have spectators back in the Allianz Arena over the course of the year.”

You personally wanted to win the Champions League one more time before you retire. That’s already happened in 2020, so is 2021 now a lap of honour?
(smiles) “A lap of honour is a nice term. On the one hand, yes, because after this phenomenal year you really have to enjoy our development and the football we play. If it were possible, we’d frame 2020 with a gold rim. On the other hand, a lap of honour sounds too much like a show to me, not enough like ambitious work – and I want to achieve everything possible again in 2021. The work goes on and on. We’re now number one in the world in all areas, and we want to defend that position and build on it. Our players won’t let up. Neither will I, of course.”

It’s going to be your final year as CEO. What does that thought elicit in you?
“I’m not big on nostalgia. When I have my last day at work in December, I hope I walk out the door and people say that I’ve done more right than wrong over the years. That people are pleased with the job I did. This job has brought me great joy, it was a great honour for me. We here all have the job of setting up this great club so that it meets the highest standards. FC Bayern has managed to do that quite well for decades. And I will do everything here until my last day of work to ensure that we also have a season in 2021 that makes us all proud and happy.”

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