Herbert Hainer: Into 2023 without any excess baggage
For FC Bayern, too, an eventful and once again extremely successful year is drawing to a close. In the first part of our big end-of-year interview, president Herbert Hainer looks back on the tenth German championship, the great successes of women's football, his re-election as president of the German record champions and his visits to the FC Bayern fan clubs.
The interview with Herbert Hainer - Part 1
What three words would you use to describe FC Bayern's year?
Herbert Hainer: "First and foremost, 'joy', because the fans were able to return to the venues and we’re experiencing sport together again with all its emotions. Then 'satisfaction', because in these fast-moving times I often don't take enough time to appreciate and value things enough. FC Bayern, for example, won their tenth consecutive title this year - a historic achievement. My third catchword is 'excitement', which I use in reference to the development in women's football: It was definitely the year of women's football. But if you leave aside sport and FC Bayern as a whole, you would unfortunately have to choose a vocabulary for 2022 that is rather worrying. Therefore, I would like to add a fourth word to your question for 2023: 'hope'. Hope for a better, peaceful future."
The FC Bayern players have returned from the World Cup in Qatar with mixed feelings. Will the Mia-san-mia feeling at FC Bayern help them to quickly get back on track for success?
Hainer: "In sport, as in life, it's about overcoming negatives, learning lessons and looking forward. It’s now a matter of going into 2023 without any excess baggage, and we know our players well enough to know that after the winter break they’ll now, more than ever, be ready to tackle achieving the big goals with FC Bayern. The journey of this generation is far from over, quite the opposite: many of them already won the Champions League in 2020 and are gaining experience season after season to repeat this coup. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry or Arjen Robben were also rewarded for giving their all until the end. Lionel Messi, after the World Cup final, is also an excellent example that you can reach every summit if you persevere. Our players are coming back to their sporting home after the winter break and will get back on track here."
„“In sport, as in life, it's about overcoming negatives, learning lessons and looking forward.””
Following the injuries to Manuel Neuer and Lucas Hernández, some critics are already saying that this season's goals could be in jeopardy. How would you respond to them?
Hainer: "Both injuries were a shock, of course. These two important mainstays will be out for the second half of the season, and our board member for sport Hasan Salihamidžić has already announced that we’re looking at options in the transfer market. We are FC Bayern and always see challenges as opportunities – that’s part of the DNA of this club. Our players will give everything to also win silverware for their injured teammates in 2023."
How are you finding Julian Nagelsmann in his second year in office?
Hainer: "Highly professional, very focused and always ready for the next level. In his second year with us, he’s shown what kind of personality he has. He has analysed exactly what needs to be optimised, had many discussions with Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidžić - and then together we shifted up a gear by winning the 12 games before the World Cup apart from the last-minute 2-2 in Dortmund. Julian Nagelsmann knows what makes FC Bayern tick. He’s followed this club from an early age and wants to achieve great things here. With him, anything is possible, even if winning the Champions League is not something you can plan, of course. It's important that everyone realises that last autumn's successes won't count for anything in the spring. One lesson for our players from being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season must be that you can't let up for one second at the absolute top level. Everyone is aware of that."
You were re-elected as president of FC Bayern in October. Which of your stated goals can already be implemented in 2023?
Hainer: "(smiles) Winning trophies! That’s what we are all about here at FC Bayern. In addition, we want to further intensify communication with our fans and push for an even stronger connection with our members. Our social commitment is also close to my heart - especially now, when it feels like one crisis is replacing the next in our society. We must not and will not slacken our efforts. I will also continue my visits to our fan clubs, also beyond the borders of Bavaria. The first events have already been scheduled. Our annual general meeting this year showed that dialogue helps us all. The FC Bayern family is intact and we would like to see more members coming to our annual general meetings again in the future - because democracy thrives on the majority taking part in decisions."
„“Our social commitment is also close to my heart - especially now, when it feels like one crisis is replacing the next in our society. We must not and will not slacken our efforts.””
You already had intensive dialogue with the members and fans in the past few months. How important was that to you?
Hainer: "Extremely important. I used to stand in the fan block myself and always want to know what concerns people. Everything we do here at FC Bayern is for our members and fans. And the best way to find out what we can improve is through dialogue. All these meetings were interesting and inspiring. We also respond to critical questions here, and that's how I imagine active club life at FC Bayern - only when you discuss things openly will you find a consensus. I receive lots of emails confirming that we're on the right track. Some members also write to let us know which players we should buy. You often have to chuckle - it's nice when everyone is committed to their FC Bayern with so much heart."
In 2022, Herbert Hainer visited numerous fan clubs of the German record champions: