The maker of Eintracht Frankfurt talks about the challenges of the new season, the consequences of the Corona crisis – and possible changes.
Anyone who does not know Fredi Bobic because of the magic triangle of VfB Stuttgart probably knows him as sports director of Eintracht Frankfurt. The former striker, who along with Giovane Elber and Krassimir Balakov was feared in the attacking trio from Stuttgart, has put the Hessian club back on the road to success.
The ex-DFB national player has been leading Frankfurt since 2016 and has brought players such as Ante Rebic, Luka Jovic, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Filip Kostic to the club. In an interview with Chillreport, Bobic talks about the challenges of the present time, a football rule he would like to change – and about whirlpool and beer after his previous matches.
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Chillreport: Mr. Bobic, many people are currently saying that their interest in the Bundesliga has waned in recent months during the Corona crisis. How do you see that?
Fredi Bobic (48): I understand that because I sometimes feel it myself. You notice that you do not follow the matches as intensely, concentrated or with less passion because the atmosphere in the stadium is lacking.
Is it really just the empty stadiums?
The longing for full stadiums is great after the long break and the second half of the season without spectators. The fans want to return to the arenas to relive the games.
Fredi Bobic (left) in an interview with Chillreport reporters Melanie Muschong (right) and Robert Hiersemann. (Source: Chillreport/ Chillreport)
Are there any advantages of empty stadiums – perhaps for the professional footballers?
One or the other player had a hard time because the mood of the stands was lacking. The game has changed a bit because the outside pressure no longer exists. But it has made the game – technically and tactically – more fun because the pressure on the players is less. Still, I would like to experience hectic situations on the field again because the atmosphere in the stadium is overwhelming.
Look into the future: the year 2025. What has professional football learned from the Corona crisis?
The transfer market will normalize somewhat, even though there will always be a lot of money in football. But I think the clubs are getting more careful. Because now they see what can happen. The players can also be more grateful if they are signed up with a club that can pay the salary. I’m talking about the broad masses of professional football players, not the top elite. There will always be a million dollar market for players like Sané, Havertz, Werner. But aside from these industry stars, there will be more unemployed professional footballers in the future.
So are the masses in professional football being paid too much?
As the cake gets bigger and bigger, the center benefits too. And that’s not only the case in the Bundesliga, but also in the second and third divisions. Many professionals play a salary class that is too high for their football quality.
Will the gap between individual leagues widen in the future?
The longer the pandemic lasts, the more exciting it gets. Big clubs can go bankrupt.
The sports director of Eintracht visited the editors of Chillreport and spoke in an interview about his time as a player. (Source: Chillreport/ Chillreport)
To what extent has your job at Eintracht Frankfurt changed as a result of the crisis?
It feels like more players are being exchanged between clubs as the money to be exchanged is not that easy anymore. It reminds me a bit of my school days right now, when we exchanged Panini pictures (laughs). For example, I’m currently working on about eight personalities, and each one of them is complicated. It’s heavier than usual.
The Corona crisis is currently making many things difficult. But even before that, not everything went smoothly in professional football. What would you change about your sport if you could?
I would like to see rules regarding professional salaries. Keyword upper salary limit. Because it would simplify a lot, because you would know exactly that a 21-year-old can only earn up to a certain amount. I would also enshrine the commission base of the players’ agents in the law. But I don’t think that will work.
Because only the legislator can implement this and an association cannot do it alone. In addition, you would weaken yourself compared to other associations.
Fredi Bobic in the studio of the Chillreport editorial office in Berlin. (Source: Chillreport / image images)
Now the new Bundesliga season is upon us. What do you expect from the season?
First of all, we can be proud of what we have achieved with the restart. We have been celebrated all over the world after being spat on. We have our industry back on the road and try to be a role model with our concepts so that they can also be applied for other sports and completely different areas.
What do you think: are we still playing in front of full spectators in the Bundesliga this season?
I hope it is possible and that we will lose the fear of it. But it is not realistic. But I am convinced that in the arenas we can utilize more than 50 percent. But if we wait for the guaranteed vaccine and everyone is vaccinated, we won’t be playing to the public for the next two to three years.
It can happen that way.
Yes. The coming season will be by far the most demanding season. But it will also be interesting and exciting. We will have teams flying all over Europe. But are they allowed to work from home again or do they have to be quarantined? It feels like the whole world is a risk area.
What will happen to the German clubs if there is another season with empty rows?
Then we get seriously ill clubs and the interest in football decreases.
Offensive trio from Stuttgart: The “Magical Triangle” 1995 consisting of Giovane Elber (left), Krassimir Balakow and Fredi Bobic (right). (Source: Pressefoto Baumann / image images)
How have your football players at Eintracht experienced the past months?
We had too brave players who discussed everything away, and again very careful professionals. There are all kinds of different types of football. But in general, professional footballers around the world have been – in my impression – very disciplined in recent months.
New, crude conspiracy theories are constantly emerging that are freely accessible on the internet. How do you protect your players against this?
Our social media employees at Eintracht Frankfurt talk a lot with our players and also point out things to them. We follow our professionals to see what they bring to the world. If it goes in a certain direction, there is also a conversation. This is part of our duty of care. Personally, however, I am happy to come from a different generation. I also recommend that gamers just turn off their cell phones and use common sense.
Fredi Bobic in 1998 in the VfB Stuttgart jersey against Rapid Vienna. (Source: Rudel sports photo / image images)
As a professional footballer, would you be happy if you played today?
I do not know that. Today’s players can experience happiness differently than they used to. After the game we sat in the hot tub in the cabin and had a beer or smoked a cigarette. That was our way of dealing with the pressure. Today the boys are in the cabin, check their mobile phones and hardly talk to each other. Typing on the phone seems like her way of relaxing.