It has been almost a year since fans were freely allowed into sporting events globally and former Bayern Munch president Uli Hoeneß is among those who misses the vibrant energy and atmosphere that jam-packed stadium can bring to a match.
For Hoeneß, the 69-year-old still cannot get used to seeing empty stadiums.
“No. Because the point of professional sport is to entertain people,” Hoeneß said to the club’s fan magazine “51” in an interview. “And this most important task can’t be fulfilled in these times as we would all like it to be. Football lives from its fans and their emotions — both are very much at home in our stadiums.”
Hoeneß has been impressed with how Bayern Munich has handled the situation as the players have remained focused on the task-at-hand despite missing the normal liveliness that fans bring to each fixture.
“The curious thing is that since last spring, our team has actually been delivering the best football it’s played for a long time, permanently at a top level,” Hoeneß remarked. “I have the impression that our players are on a personal mission to please the fans out there in this pandemic. They are succeeding magnificently.”
Hoeneß, however, is sure that the fans miss being in the stadium, just as much as the players long for the raucous environment. The former club president did maintain that everyone will need to be vigilant whenever fans return to the Allianz Arena.
“I’m sure they’ll flock back again. We need a stringent, consistent concept. The spectator must not have to ask himself whether he can hug his neighbor or not,” Hoeneß said. “We have to approach it cautiously. German football has proven what is possible with a hygiene concept. At the core of any return strategy must always be: Health comes first. You have to be well prepared and coordinate it carefully.”
When asked about players like Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski saying they need to win a Champions League title with fans in the stands, Hoeneß was thrilled.
“That’s a terrific approach,” Hoeneß said with a grin. “I’m deeply impressed by our players anyway. They have incredible character.”