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DFL appoints Donata Hopfen as first female chief executive

BCG Digital Ventures MD handed three-year contract from January 2022.

17 August 2021 Rory Jones
  • Hopfen to replace Christian Seifert, who is stepping down as CEO after 16 years 
  • Seifert to leave role six months earlier than originally planned
  • 45-year-old Hopfen previously spent 14 years at Axel Springer, including stint as MD of Bild Group

The German Football League (DFL), which is responsible for Germany’s top two soccer divisions, has announced that Donata Hopfen will take over as chief executive for three years from January 2022.

Hopfen is currently managing director and partner at BCG Digital Ventures, a Boston Consulting Group company, and previously spent 14 years at the Axel Springer media group, including a stint as managing director of the Bild Group.

The 45-year-old will replace Christian Seifert, who last year announced his intention to step down as DFL chief executive when his contract expires in June 2022. Seifert, who has been in charge since 2005, will now leave the role six months earlier than planned but will be on hand to ensure a smooth transition. 

Peter Peters, chairman of the DFL’s supervisory board, said: “Donata Hopfen is the right personality for one of the most important positions in German football. In a time of change, she has all the qualities and the assertiveness to lead the DFL on behalf of the clubs of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 into an ongoing successful future for the clubs.”

Voted Germany’s ‘Media Woman of the Year’ in 2014, Hopfen will become the first female chief executive of the DFL when she assumes the role in January. She will also be the only woman at the helm of one of the major European soccer leagues.

“German professional football has a great tradition and is deeply embedded in society,” Hopfen said. “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.”


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