The governing body of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) has found a replacement for CEO Christian Seifert. Donata Hopfen will replace the 52-year-old Seifert. The 45-year-old is currently the managing director and partner at BCG Digital Ventures, a Boston Consulting Group company.
Seifert announced earlier this year that he was going to leave the organization in 2022. The 52-year-old has been in charge since 2005 and has guided the league through both unprecedented growth but also the difficult COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 the Bundesliga was the first major sports league to return to the field thanks to a well-worked hygiene concept that was later copied by all major football leagues worldwide.
“Donata Hopfen is the right personality for one of the most important positions in German football,” chairman of the supervisory board Peter Peters said in a statement. “In a time of change, she has all the qualities and the assertiveness to lead the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 into an ongoing successful future for the clubs. This applies in particular to her extensive experience in media and digitalization—with a clear commitment to responsibility in society in all its facets. We are convinced that we are at the start of a successful cooperation.”
Seifert’s contract originally ran until next summer, but both parties agreed to terminate the contract on Jan. 1, 2022, instead. Hopfen will start her new role as the CEO of the DFL on Jan. 1, 2022. Until then, Seifert will remain in his current role and then, from January onwards, will move to a consultancy role only to provide guidance and guarantee a smooth transition. Hopfen, in the meantime, will join the newly expanded supervisory board immediately.
“I would like to express my thanks for the confidence placed in me,” Hopfen said in a league statement. “German professional football has a great tradition and is deeply embedded in society. Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 enjoy an excellent reputation worldwide, as does the DFL. This must be maintained against the backdrop of technological, societal, and media changes relating to football – while at the same time moving forward in an innovative way. I am already looking forward to tackling current and future challenges, together with the clubs and the DFL team.”
Hopfen has a fantastic track record. In 2014 she was voted Media Women of the Year in Germany. Hopfen started her career at Accenture and then was a managing director at the BILD Group for 14 years before moving on to Verimi, where she acted as a CEO.
Manuel Veth is the editor-in-chief of the Futbolgrad Network and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth