Oliver Kahn: Here, we teach you how to win titles

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With Oliver Kahn as CEO, a new era has begun, at a watershed moment: The coronavirus pandemic means historic challenges. A conversation about responsibility, the ability to win and that special something FC Bayern can offer players.

Oliver Kahn - The interview

Herr Kahn, a desk always reflects the personality of its owner. What does your desk say about you?
"Basically, I feel more comfortable with a more reduced style. I think when you have a lot of things on your mind, it helps you personally when everything is well organised. The more minimalist an office is, the easier it is for me to focus."

Being a CEO can be lonely at times because you are ultimately the one who has to make the decisions. How do you deal with that?
"For me, this feeling of shouldering responsibility isn't something new. That was already the case as a player, as a goalkeeper and captain, and, and after my playing career I quickly learned as an independent businessman what it means to have to make far-reaching or sometimes tough decisions. It's important for me to work with a team, because you can't possibly know or do everything yourself."


When you joined the board in January 2020, your goal was "to be the best wherever we compete". Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Has the FC Bayern world now been turned on its head?
"Sporting-wise, we're the best in many areas, of course. But economically, the situation today is completely different to the one I found here on 1 January 2020. Until now, FC Bayern has always been able to draw on its full resources. Now, for the first time in many years, we have a situation where that's no longer the case. The national TV revenues for the next four years will be lower than those of the previous period. The income from spectators will probably be lower again this season due to coronavirus. That's why we have to get creative and explore new avenues. That's our task, because we want to carry on being among the top three in Europe." 

How depressing is it that, of all times, Bayern's much-cited fixed deposit account is under such great pressure as you take up your new post?
"The investor-driven English clubs in particular have enormous financial clout. Nevertheless, we've always managed to compensate for this competitive disadvantage. We're working on that with everything we have, because we are FC Bayern. What distinguishes us from all the other clubs is that we have always had a very strong community and a very strong culture of success here. Others have a winning mentality too - but we have this very specific ability to win. Here, we teach you how to win titles, that's a very distinctive trait here. From my own experience, I can tell you how much it gives a player to shape an era. Many players only realise what it's worth to be a defining part of an era when their career is over."


Do you think that in this day and age players will give up the odd million in salary at another club for the sake of identification?
"Of course I know that money always plays a role. But a player is also a person who should think about it: A career goes by faster than you think - and how should the fans then remember you? What should they say about me in the end? Where should I be placed? FC Bayern has an incredible amount to offer its players. Everyone should be aware of that. In the past, many players at FC Bayern have realised just what is possible here. And no one has ever regretted spending a long time at the club."

Will your office door always be open to the players, as was the case with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß?
"Of course. And look around: I even have two doors here (laughs). At the beginning of the pandemic it was difficult for me because I could only have limited contact with the team due to the hygiene rules. It's very important to me to be able to have a chat with the players."


Julian Nagelsmann exudes a spirit of optimism as the new coach - is something like that also good for FC Bayern right now, when the coronavirus has been crippling the whole world for over a year and everyone is longing for new beginnings?
"I certainly believe that in this pandemic people would like to experience something new, something fresh. Something that is forward-looking. That creates excitement. Excitement is always good. A sense of optimism is even better. And that's what we're feeling here right now."

As a player, you always have three goals at FC Bayern: Championship, DFB Cup and Champions League. Are your goals as CEO of FC Bayern more long-term in nature?
"Football is always about winning the next game. That's why we're here and that's what the day-to-day business is about: making this level of football economically possible. In sporting terms, I've set myself the goal of consolidating the successes we've had in the past. The competition will be chasing us like seldom before. We have to be aware of that. In general, my goal is for the fans to say about FC Bayern: This is my club, this is the best club in the world. "I want FC Bayern to be more than just about success for people. The club should create a sense of identification and give our fans an important purpose in life. Our fans should be able to be proud of their club."

The complete interview is available in the FC Bayern club members' magazine '51' (in German only). You can also read there about new coach Julian Nagelsmann's first few weeks.

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