Herbert Hainer: The fans simply mean everything
In the second part of our interview with Herbert Hainer, the president sums up the season in men's and women's football and basketball. He also explains the goals for the future, looks ahead to the European Championship and explains why the return of fans to the stadiums is so important for football.
The interview with Herbert Hainer
Mr. Hainer, in football FC Bayern celebrated the double of men and women, the basketball players are in the final for the title - it could be a treble of a special kind. What does that mean for the club?
"After the historic six titles last year, this is an achievement that everyone can be proud of. The fact our footballers have not let up after their great successes and are still so hungry shows their unique character. The women played an incredibly dominant Bundesliga season and were unlucky to be eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals. In the basketball division we won the cup and made enormous progress in our rise up the international rankings. We were the first German club in the EuroLeague play-offs. FC Bayern can once again be very satisfied with this season."
How important is it for FC Bayern to have a successful women's football team?
"FC Bayern must always aim to be number one. And our women's team absolutely live up to this expectation. We are top in Germany and we're now among the top teams in Europe as well. Women's football is gaining more and more importance internationally. We have a tradition of more than 50 years of women's football at FC Bayern; very few top clubs in Europe can claim that, and today it's essential for a top club to play at the highest standard in the women's game. We're getting closer and closer to this goal."
What does the future of basketball hold? With the new hall, managing director Marko Pešić wants to make Munich the basketball capital of Europe. Is that realistic?
"Last summer, we set our goals in basketball with a three-year plan, and that means we want to reach the absolute top in Europe step by step. The SAP Garden will be one of the most modern halls in the world and it will offer completely new opportunities in terms of marketing and digitisation. I think this goal of becoming one of the best clubs in Europe is challenging but realistic. We had an excellent EuroLeague campaign this season, which motivates us all to keep going. The sporting management, the coaching staff and the team are top-notch - and the infrastructure will set international standards."
„"The crisis has welded our departments even closer together, as we've always tried to support everyone as a club."”
We're looking back at a whole season without spectators - what does that mean for sport in general?
"It was a difficult time for all of us, but I firmly believe once it's safe for health, people will come back to the stadiums in large numbers. Everyone longs for the emotions and the sense of community we experienced in the stadiums before coronavirus. In spite of everything, it will certainly be a great challenge for everyone, in the professional as well as the amateur and junior sectors, to revive active sport. What worries me is that the football fields have been empty for a year and a half, school sport was hardly possible. It will be the task of governments, society, associations, clubs and every individual, especially children and young people, to get enthusiastic about sport again."
How can you go about this in concrete terms?
"We've suffered from the restrictions in our youth setup as much as any other sports club. My big thanks go to our volunteers, who faced the situation with creativity, great commitment and enormous adaptability. We made the best of it, with online training sessions, cross-departmental exchanges, opening up new areas for exercise in the city or virtual motivational talks with, for example, David Alaba and 200 kids. Ultimately, a lot depends on the motivation of the individual, and if there is anything positive about this pandemic, it's that the crisis has welded our departments even closer together, as we've always tried to support everyone as a club."
How has FC Bayern kept in touch with the grassroots during this pandemic?
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've been in active communication with our members and fans. Digitisation makes a lot of things easier. We get very good feedback on our videos, surveys, mailings and messages, as well as the fact we always include the opportunity for many questions."
Coming back to the spectators in the stadium: for the last game of the season, FC Bayern invited pandemic workers - will there be more of this?
"Yes. It was important for us to give a large number of the 250 places to people who have done such a great job for society in this pandemic. That will certainly not be the last gesture of this kind."
Does a pandemic sharpen the focus that a club with the charisma of FC Bayern must be involved in society?
"That has always distinguished our club, and I think we achieved a lot during this pandemic. Just recently we donated 150,000 euros for schoolchildren who have to go to class in the morning without breakfast. We supported the Bavarian amateur clubs and the state sports association financially, we were with the basketball players at the Münchner Tafel, and our players also started initiatives of their own accord, if I think about Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka with "WeKickCorona". These are all things that a club like FC Bayern has to do."
When do you expect full capacity in German stadiums?
"I'm assuming we will be approved for partial capacity at the start of the season and we can hope for full capacity gradually and as soon as possible. The top priority is of course the protection of people's health."
What does the return of fans to the stadiums mean?
"To put it quite simply: it means everything. It's only through the fans that sport becomes a spectacle, they ignite and multiply the emotions that make a stadium experience so unique. Our players keep telling me how much they miss the atmosphere. We all long for the familiar stadium normality. Only then will it be the football we all love so much."
At the Euros there will be spectators in the stadiums - will you be there?
"Yes, I will be at the Allianz Arena for Germany's opening game against France and I'm looking forward to the crowd with 14,000 spectators."
What do you expect from the German national team, which includes many Bayern players?
"Personally, I'm optimistic about the German team. The squad is very good and I think the players want Joachim Löw to have a great send-off. The group games are going to take place in Munich, I've heard from the preparation that the atmosphere is good - I think Germany will go a long way. We are a tournament nation."
So a group stage exit is out of the question despite the tough opponents?
"No. I don't waste thoughts on that."
Will a FC Bayern player become European champion?
"We have a total of 13 players in the competition, and Germany and France are always among the top contenders, so the chances are good."
Who will be European champions?
"There are the usual suspects like France, Portugal, England - but I'm optimistic about Germany."
Let's look ahead to after the Euros: what does the aformentioned possible treble mean for the new season? Is German sport threatened with permanent Bayern dominance?
"FC Bayern have worked hard for decades to achieve their success - and we will not slacken a milimetre. Every title at this club always means motivation and commitment. I have nothing against permanent Bayern dominance at every level. It's the FC Bayern DNA to always want to win everything. It won't happen every time, but the others will have to work extremely hard to prevent it. Titles should only ever go through FC Bayern. Of course, the tenth straight German title is the next goal."
What do you say to skeptics who fear/complain about the great boredom?
"I don't think last season was boring. Leipzig challenged us for a long time, Dortmund showed what they can do with a strong finish. The championship will not be a sure-fire success in 2021/22, and I expect a title race in which everything will be demanded of us. With the women and the basketball players it was open until the last day, and that's the top level as well. I'm looking forward to the new season."
In the first part of the interview, Herbert Hainer spoke about the future of FCB under Oliver Kahn and Julian Nagelsmann and about transfers in the summer: