Seifert to step down as DFL chief executive in 2022
Christian Seifert, chief executive of the DFL, the German professional soccer league, is to leave his role in 2022, it has been announced.
The 51-year-old Seifert, who has overseen the organiser of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga since 2005, will let his contract expire without a renewal at the end of the 2021-22 season, and intends to pursue other ambitions.
His current five-year contract was signed in October 2016.
The DFL issued a statement today after the German Bild newspaper reported that Seifert had decided not to extend his contract.
The chief executive said: "In my position at the apex of the DFL, I have been able to play an active role in steering the development of what is simultaneously one of the world’s biggest sports leagues and a crucial social institution, and in establishing one of Germany’s most innovative media enterprises.”
He added: “In two years’ time, I want to begin writing a new chapter in my professional career. But for as long as I work for DFL, I will continue to focus, with the utmost dedication and ambition, on the current and future challenges facing the organisation.”
Peter Peters, chairman of the DFL’s supervisory board, added: “The change at the top of the DFL means a turning point… The supervisory board will approach the new appointment professionally without time pressure, and set up a comprehensive process for this purpose.”
Seifert is widely respected in the soccer world, and it was reported in 2019 that he had been approached to be a candidate to replace the departed Richard Scudamore as head of England's Premier League, only to decline the opportunity after briefly considering it. The role of chief executive there was ultimately filled from within by Richard Masters.
Seifert, and the DFL as a whole, have received widespread praise for what was seen as one of the most effective responses from a major European league to the crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bundesliga was the first top league to return to action after the initial stage of the pandemic, in mid-May, and has also managed to bring back limited numbers of fans to games in the early stages of the 2020-21 season.
Earlier this year, Seifert oversaw the Bundesliga’s domestic media rights auction for 2021-22 to 2024-25, which raised €4.4 billion ($4.95 billion) in total, a drop of €200 million on the present deal that runs to the end of the current season, as the impact of Covid-19 precluded what was expected to be a healthy increase.
The pay-television packages will remain with incumbents Sky Deutschland and over-the-top service DAZN, while commercial channel ProSiebenSat.1 will succeed public-service broadcaster ZDF as the free-to-air rights holder.
The €4.6 billion that the DFL brought in for the 2017-18 to 2020-21 seasons was 85 per cent higher than the amount paid for the previous cycle.
This had helped contribute to a healthy increase in revenue across the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga during Seifert's tenure, while financial controls have largely prevented clubs from running up large debts.
Last week, Seifert was among the leading European soccer chiefs to speak out against the mooted breakaway European Premier League, saying: "This kind of Super League stands for everything that European professional football shouldn’t stand for in the future, and would shake European football to its foundations.”