Herbert Hainer: We've questioned ourselves critically
Three years ago, members elected Herbert Hainer to succeed Uli Hoeneß as president of FC Bayern Munich. The next executive elections take place at the annual general meeting on 15 October, for which the administrative advisory board have again nominated president Hainer, senior vice-president Professor Dr. Dieter Mayer and deputy vice-president Walter Mennekes.
Interview with Herbert Hainer
Mr Hainer, what does it mean to you to stand for president of FC Bayern again?
Hainer: “It’s an honour for me to be president of FC Bayern and I am happy to stand for re-election for another three years. In this respect, I am of course very pleased about the nomination by the administrative advisory board. I stood on the terraces at FC Bayern games as a teenager, Franz Beckenbauer was my absolute idol, and my heart has been beating red ever since those days. When Uli Hoeneß asked me three years ago if I would like to succeed him, it was a huge thrill for me. It turned out to be a challenging three years - but above all successful and very, very nice.”
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
“Just a few months after my election, coronavirus turned the world on its head, in football and in life in general. We were confronted with questions for which there was no blueprint, had to play in empty stadiums and had historic revenue losses. The pandemic is still with us, but our fans can be proud that we as FC Bayern have continued to set standards even during these difficult times, for example with our sextuple year, which is unparalleled in the club’s history. Despite the difficult conditions, we are extremely successful in sport and at the same time keep FC Bayern on track financially. For me personally, our strong triad of sport, business and social commitment is important. FC Bayern comes out well in all three areas. Our club enjoys an impeccable reputation throughout Europe.”
How long did last year’s AGM occupy you?
“We all agree that this assembly was not our finest hour and wasn’t Bayern-like. The atmosphere, the protests - they hurt me personally, I must say. I got home at 2:30 that night, hardly slept and then called a meeting at Säbener Straße the next morning. It was a matter close to my heart that we question ourselves honestly and critically and then do everything to show that was not the FC Bayern we imagine. Since then, we’ve developed or intensified many new forms of dialogue at the club. The exchange with our members and fans is important to me, and we’ve been getting lots of positive feedback for months: many people tell us we’ve learned the right lessons.”
Can you name examples?
“In the past few weeks, for example, I have been travelling all over Bavaria for regional fan club meetings to find out what concerns our fans. And the feedback we get is that we have understood. We have met several times with fan representatives to discuss the Qatar issue, even controversially. In addition, we have finally been able to implement the 'round table', which unfortunately could not be realised for a long time because of the pandemic. We held workshops for members, we sat together with the fans at the President's Schafkopf and at the joint brunch for the club’s birthday. We will continue and develop all these interactions. I grew up at a small club and know how important it is to sit down together regularly and listen to each other. FC Bayern has always been characterised by the fact that it is like a big family, with its almost 300,000 members - I stand for that and want us to continue to live by that. Of course, there are always different opinions in such a big club, and unfortunately we will never be able to please everyone, but at the end of the day, the good of FC Bayern must be the top priority in every debate.”
In general, what’s important to you?
“That we’re a club, a family. You know, when I drove through Munich after the ‘Finale dahoam’ in 2012, I saw all these desolate fans on the streets. It was eerie. And I felt the same in my innermost being. At the banquet, I just looked at my plate for a moment and said: ‘Sorry, I don't want any more today, I'm going home now!’ But our story shows how beautiful it is: united in suffering - and a year later at Wembley, we all celebrated the Champions League triumph together. That was the big downer in Lisbon in 2020: that the fans weren't there. We have to make up for that and win the Champions League with our fans in the stadium. I think our current team can achieve anything.”
What are your objectives at FC Bayern?
“First of all I’m pleased that I’ll be standing again. Although I’ve been a member of the supervisory board since 2002, I have always been a fan of the club. That's why sporting successes always come first for me. Our whole club should inspire our fans - with attractive, successful football and many titles, both in men's and women's football. We also want to further develop the basketball side at the highest level and establish it among the European elite. With the SAP Garden we are creating the best conditions for this - it will be one of the most modern venues in all of Europe. In addition, we will always continue to operate sensibly and want to remain a role model in this area as well. The social aspect is also particularly important to me. FC Bayern should continue to stand for its values, for the diversity of sport with all its departments and opportunities. It should create identification, be a home for our fans and also help people who are less well off. All those who take on responsibility here work for this.”