CEO Kahn Names Start in Munich Leadership ‘a Baptism of Fire’

Former Germany and Munich captain Kahn, 52, joined the club’s board in 2020 and took over from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as chief executive officer in the summer of 2021.

“These first two years here for me have been intense, quite a baptism of fire,” Kahn told the club magazine in an interview published Tuesday.

Bayern won a record-extending 10th straight Bundesliga title during Kahn’s first season as CEO but missed out in the German Cup and the Champions League where they were beaten by Spanish surprise side Villarreal.

“It still annoys me today. When I sit on the couch in front of the TV during the Champions League semi-final thinking to myself: ‘I could also be playing against Liverpool right now’, it drives me up the wall. It’s the same when you watch the cup final,” he said.

But Kahn believes that the team will deal with these setbacks as “it’ll spur them on” to do better next season because “everything we come up against just makes FC Bayern stronger in the end.”

“Slacking off, letting up – there’ s no such thing at FC Bayern. Here, people constantly question themselves,” he said.

“This club is always on the move. The feeling of satisfaction never has time to spread in such a way that it could become complacency. This constant struggle here to find the best solutions is a recipe for success at FC Bayern.”

Kahn praised coach Julian Nagelsmann who won his first big title in his debut season in Munich by topping the Bundesliga, saying: “At 34 years old, he’s already reached a very high level.

“With his fresh, dynamic style, Julian is very good for us … Julian is incredibly ambitious and enormously reflective. Without his extraordinary abilities, he wouldn’t be where he is today.”

Kahn is not as outspoken as Rummenigge and former club president Uli Hoeneß but is aware that this could lead to a wrong perception of his leadership.

“I sometimes have the feeling that for the public the word ‘lead’ in relation to a football club means that you have to be loud. For me, however, that has only a limited connection with leadership, if any,” he said. For me, leadership is mainly an internal thing,” he said.

But he added he learnt “that it is of great importance for the public that, as far as external perception is concerned, the people running FC Bayern are visible – and permanently visible. Because that creates identity.”

Kahn said that football is “in a state of flux” in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, Champions League reform from 2024, investor clubs abroad and new Fiancial Fair Play rules but that Munich want to continue playing a leading role.

“Our task is complex and it’ll be important for all of us at the club to continue to make good decisions. To do that, we need to think in a new, changing football world,” Kahn said.