Donata Hopfen has officially stepped down from her role as CEO of the DFL, a position that she had taken over from Christian Seifert as of January 1st, 2022. She was the first woman in a top position in the German football governing body, but her tenure comes to an end well short of her contract, which was set to run through 2024. The restructuring at the top of the DFL continues to take form in the wake of the 2022 World Cup, and Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn is set to play a key role in the future of the way the organization is run.
For the time being, Hans-Joachim Watzke confirmed that “Axel Hellmann, CEO of Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt, and Oliver Leki, CFO of Freiburg, would take over as acting DFL leaders” on a interim basis until new leadership put into place in the summer (per DW).
Bayern president Herbert Hainer recently stressed to DAZN that a strong DFL is “very, very important” for the Bundesliga as a whole and insisted that Kahn will be heavily involved with the workings of the DFL. “We all have to unite, and FC Bayern will be very active, especially Oliver Kahn as CEO, in the process of further strengthening the DFL,” Hainer told DAZN (kicker).
Over the summer, Kahn had confirmed that his sole focus would be on his role as CEO of Bayern, but that the position is always closely related to working with the DFL, saying “the task of the chairman of the board at FC Bayern is traditionally and rightly very closely linked to the sporting area.” He feels that he can offer enough support and consultancy for the DFL without holding a direct seat in the organization, despite Watzke feeling confident that he could do so with great success.
There is some concern that if Borussia Dortmund and Bayern representatives hold executive committee positions in the DFL, too much power will be given to a pair of clubs that already hold significantly more power than the rest of the Bundesliga, which is an optic Kahn and Hainer want to avoid. Still, Kahn can offer insight where and when needed without over-bearing any of the other representatives to ensure decisions are made for the best of the entire DFL and not just the teams at the top of the Bundesliga.