German soccer league finds 2 more men to replace 2 men who replaced female CEO


The German soccer league will appoint two more men to take over as chief executive officers from the two men who took over from a woman last year.

Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel are to assume duties as co-CEOs on July 1, taking over from Axel Hellmann and Oliver Leki, the league, known as the DFL, said in a statement on Thursday.

Hellmann and Leki took over on an interim basis from Donata Hopfen last December when she stepped down from the role as head of Germany’s top two soccer divisions after less than a year in charge.

Hopfen became the DFL’s first female CEO when she took over from Christian Seifert on a three-year contract from January 2022, but she struggled to impose her vision to resolve longstanding questions on issues such as the league’s 50-plus-1 rule limiting the role of outside investors, marketing at home and abroad, and the sale of media rights.

She suggested in a social media post she did not receive the support she needed from league members to make required changes to longstanding structures.

Lenz and Merkel were already members of the DFL’s management board. The 37-year-old Lenz previously worked for UEFA and McKinsey & Company, while the 37-year-old Merkel previously worked for the Boston Consulting Group.

“Both enjoy the highest respect within the organization and at the clubs,” league supervisory board chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke said. “They are familiar with all matters and future projects of the DFL Group, were already part of the management group, and have excellent networks.”


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