It’s not that Klaus Brüggemann is naive and blue-eyed. Of course he knows that Frank Steffel polarizes. And even if he hadn’t known it before, he would have found out on Monday at the latest when a message from a friend reached him. “Oh, God,” he wrote after it became known that Frank Steffel would be running for president of Hertha BSC.
Steffel as president of the Berlin Bundesliga club and successor to Werner Gegenbauer – that is the idea of Klaus Brüggemann, who has been the new chairman of the club’s supervisory board for almost two weeks. Brüggemann is well aware of the weaknesses of the candidate who stood in vain for the 2001 CDU election as governing mayor of Berlin; who made little differentiating statements about the ultra culture in the Bundestag a few years ago and who was also stripped of his doctorate in 2019. Nevertheless, Hertha’s supervisory board chief considers 56-year-old Steffel to be the right man at the top of the club.
“Everyone is calling for a fresh start. You would get a fresh start with Steffel,” Brüggemann told the Tagesspiegel. “I’m not interested in his work as a politician. I am interested in his CV as an entrepreneur and his success story with the foxes. Frank Steffel knows the club and he knows the business. He would have the character and assertiveness to steer Hertha in the right direction.”
Steffel, the president of the handball Bundesliga club Füchse Berlin, has been an official candidate since Monday after he received the approval of the supervisory board required by the articles of association. Just like former Ultra Kay Bernstein, as well as Michael Baumgärtner and Marvin Brumme. Ingmar Pering, member of the Executive Committee, also announced his candidacy on Monday, but has not yet been officially proposed for election.
This also applies (as of Tuesday afternoon) to the other two members of the Executive Committee who are candidates for the office of Vice President (Fabian Drescher) or are to be candidates (Peer Mock-Sümer). There is still an opportunity to do so until Saturday, 11:59 p.m., exactly one week before the extraordinary general meeting (June 26, from 11 a.m., City-Cube). Around 20 candidates are applying for the three (up to a maximum of five) vacant positions on the Executive Committee. The rumor still persists that Torsten-Jörn Klein, Brüggemann’s predecessor as chairman of the supervisory board, is running for the presidential election, although he ruled that out at the general meeting at the end of May.
Frank Steffel, until 2021 for the CDU in the Bundestag, has now commented on his candidacy on Twitter. “The common goal must be to set the presidency, supervisory board and management on a common strategy, to end the dispute and to use Hertha’s great youth work more to identify in the Berlin-Brandenburg region,” he wrote there. “All the background noise and vanities only distract from the crucial goal: stability and sporting success for the next few years!”
Steffel can refer to his experience as president of the foxes. He has been in office for 17 years. He would give up this post if he were elected to Hertha. It was a difficult decision for him, he wrote on Twitter, “but the conversation with the new supervisory board makes me very confident about the future of Hertha BSC!”
For Brüggemann, Steffel would be the candidate who can pacify the club and fill in the rifts that have been torn open in recent weeks and months. On social media, however, his idea has met with rejection rather than approval.
In the search for a possible consensus candidate, Brüggemann combed through a list of prominent members of the club. That’s when he came across Steffel’s name. He doesn’t have a personal relationship with him, he explains. At the weekend he met Steffel for the first time and talked to him. “I think it’s good and I’m fully behind it,” says Brüggemann. However, he also knows that it will not be a sure-fire success.