Shot Callers: Rudolf Vidal, President of the Americas, Bayern Munich

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Thanks to events like the International Champions Cup and several high-level European leagues and teams setting up offices in North America, the popularity of professional soccer continues to rise in the United States. One club at the forefront of this has been FC Bayern Munich.

The club’s President of the Americas Rudolf Vidal sat down with FOS’ Ian Thomas to discuss the U.S. soccer market, the International Champions Cup, winning over North American fans, and more.

Edited highlights appear below:

On what he has learned about the U.S. soccer market (0:16)

Vidal: “We have seen a lot of things and we learned a lot. When we came here, the most important thing what we wanted to do was obviously growing the fan base, building the brand, looking for any kind of mutually beneficial partnerships and help grow the sport of soccer on and off the field. That was our target in the beginning and we kind of had to learn from scratch. We had to learn from that cluttered sport and entertainment market…We’ve seen a huge growth in the market when it comes to that sport…So it’s overall a very, very positive development.”

On relationships with other European clubs that are doing business in the U.S. (3:30)

Vidal: “We have great relationships, but we also have great relationships in Europe. The most important thing is we all have the same goal. So although we were here first, we were so happy to share our knowledge and experiences because in the end, we’ll want them to invest in the market, come here and help to grow the sports on and off the field. So we talk quite frequently to each other in order to see what the situation is, and what the market is doing…I’m happy to exchange our knowledge and exchange anything which is what’s crucial for the market.”

On the importance of FC Bayern taking part in the International Champions Cup (4:23)

Vidal: “Everything that we do here is a 365 days approach because the games are on weekends. We have people working the entire weekend to maintain those relationships and talk and interact with our fans. Having the team here is the top of the iceberg. It is like the top of the pyramid when you do the entire initial internationalization. We have a lot of initiatives and that’s one of the most important because everything that we do throughout the entire year is leading up to that. And I can tell you the fact that we are coming for the fourth time in five years shows the commitment of Bayern Munich to our fans, to those who can not be in Munich, can not attend the Allianz Arena…I know it was not always possible in the past, but we’re very, very excited.”

What type of marketing events work well to deepen the club’s bond with fans (6:15)

Vidal: “For example, we have our coaches. We are going to help communities, where we have clinics, camps with underprivileged kids. We also help to do soccer camps and clinics for everybody else. We have our coaches there. We bring our fans together with our team, with our executives. And of course, there are some events going on. We’ll open a temporary exhibition at the Holocaust museum in LA knowing that Bayern Munich has a Jewish past, we obviously wanted to do this and contribute something where we know that soccer, football, is a language everybody speaks and bring the right people together.”