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DFB visits Wolfsburg

Volkswagen and DFB celebrate the start of a strong partnership.

International Game: Children of 
Employees Can Run into the Stadium

Promotions to mark the start of the partnership with the DFB – apply now!

Running into the stadium with national players – for eleven soccer-loving children of Volkswagen employees, it’s a dream that could soon come true. This is made possible by Volkswagen’s new partnership with the German Football Association (DFB). This means, among other things: Volkswagen will be providing the eleven girls and boys for the junior escort and also the ball-carrying child at all home international games of the team headed by Captain Manuel Neuer – for the first time on Wednesday, March 20, at the game against Serbia in the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg. And that’s not all: Volkswagen employees can also apply for a place in the fan honor guard, through which the players enter the stadium.

National Team Manager Oliver Bierhoff is already looking forward to the international game in the Volkswagen Arena. Bierhoff says in an inside interview that Wolfsburg should be the starting signal for a better international year. He was also one of the participants at the DFB Executive Committee meeting in Wolfsburg at the start of the partnership with Volkswagen. After a factory tour, the top of the largest German sports association was impressed by the passion with which Volkswagen employees build cars.

Entering the stadium hand in hand with Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, or Leroy Sané before an international match – what football-loving child hasn’t dreamed of that? Well, this dream could now become a reality for eleven children of Volkswagen employees. This is made possible by Volkswagen’s new partnership with the German Football Association (DFB). This partnership aims to give Volkswagen the opportunity to provide the eleven children for the junior escort, as well as a ball carrier, at all future home international games for the German team. On March 20, in the duel against Serbia at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, Germany, these elusive spots are reserved exclusively for children of Volkswagen employees. And that’s not all: Volkswagen employees can also apply for a place in the fan honor guard, through which the players enter the stadium.

The eleven other winners will form the junior escort on the day of the match, entering the stadium hand in hand with the German players. According to the regulations of the DFB, the children must be between six and ten years of age. The closing date is March 20. The children must be no taller than 1.50 m, and must be fit and healthy enough to participate in physical activity. The winners will be looked after by Volkswagen employees on the match day. After the whistle, the children are allowed to watch the game along with an accompanying person.
In addition, Volkswagen is looking for employees to form a fan honor guard for the German team before the start of the game. These employees will also receive tickets for themselves and a guest.

Entering the stadium hand in hand with Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, or Leroy Sané before an international match

“We have always stressed that our employees will benefit from the partnership with the DFB,” says Sales Director Jürgen Stackmann, “and this is a promise we are now following through on.”
We are therefore looking for twelve boys and girls with at least one parent employed by Volkswagen AG for the friendly against Serbia. The main winner will get to act as ball carrier at the referee’s side, carrying the match ball from the players’ tunnel and out into the stadium. The real kicker is that the child will receive the ball a few days in advance to show their classmates, friends, and grandparents. This child will also be partially accompanied by a Volkswagen TV crew.

How to take part:

Employees who would like to win a place in the junior escort for their children (6 to 10 years old, maximum 1.50 m tall) should send an email to fussball@volkswagen.de with the subject “Ball children”.

Volkswagen employees who would like to win a place in the fan honor guard should send an email to
fussball@volkswagen.de with the subject “Fan honor guard”.

Please enter your team number and a telephone number you can be reached on during the day. The closing date for entries is February 20. The conditions for participation and the data protection declaration for the competition can be found on the portal.

Manager of the national team for almost 15 years: Oliver Bierhoff.

Oliver Bierhoff on Cars and the International Match in Wolfsburg

The manager of the national soccer team in an inside interview – He is already looking forward to the Volkswagen Arena.

Volkswagen has been mobility partner of the German Football Association (DFB) since the beginning of the year. In keeping with this, the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg is set to host its second international game for Germany’s top team on March 20. Inside discussed both topics with national team manager Oliver Bierhoff (50).

Mr. Bierhoff, where are you 
right now?
I’m in the car on the way 
to the airport.

You’ve been driving a Touareg for a few weeks now. Satisfied?
Absolutely! It's really fun to be on the road with the Touareg. We’ve really hit it off, you could say. The Touareg is a great car. It’s safe and comfortable, and equipped with everything I need. It even has a whole host of other features I haven’t tested out or even discovered yet.

What’s especially important 
to you when choosing a car?
Well, it’s changed over the decades. Put it this way, the horsepower is no longer quite as important as it used to be (laughs). Today, what counts most for me are safety, space, and functionality, combined with a dash of sportiness of course. And since I’m passionate about digital progress, I think it’s important for a car to be up to date in these areas too. The Touareg really shines in this regard as well.

"It's really fun to be on the road with the Touareg. We’ve really hit it off, you could say"

Oliver Bierhoff, manager of the national football team

Stopping for a chat at the ZeitHaus in the Autostadt: Oliver Bierhoff (left) and Group CEO Herbert Diess.

Which assistance system would 
you never want to do without again?
I’d say distance control and cruise control, which make driving a much more relaxed experience. The introduction of the hands-free kit made my life so much easier, too. These days, I also use my car as a mobile office for calling employees or dialing into conference calls. I can even dictate emails or messages while driving.

Do you remember your first car?
You bet I do! It was a Golf GTI convertible in metallic blue. It didn’t have power steering or electric windows, but it did boast a cool 112 bhp. At the time, this was absolutely crazy. I still remember a trip to Lake Garda very well. Just after Munich, my buddy and I immediately opened the top of our “strawberry basket” [editor’s note: This nickname was given to the convertible because of its safety bar]. We then took the Brenner Pass through to Italy.

From cars to football: The national team will play their first international match of the year in Wolfsburg. What makes you confident that 2019 will be a better year following the embarrassment of the World Cup?
The high quality of our players and the competence of the coaching team. We have seen a significant improvement in our team’s performance in recent games, even though the results have not always been what we had hoped for. But Jogi Löw has brought about change in the team, and has given responsibility to many young players who really want to join the national team. This is sure to pay off in the long run. We have to be patient with our young team and not expect miracles. But we also agree that an international year like 2018 should not be repeated at any cost. Even though failure in sports is sometimes, sadly, unavoidable.

What is the significance of the game in Wolfsburg against Serbia?
Looking ahead to the important European Championship qualifying match in the Netherlands just four days later, we intend to implement important things in Wolfsburg. We hope that an atmospheric start on the pitch and in the stands will allow us to muster up the necessary momentum for a successful international year. Even though no tournaments are scheduled for 2019, we still face very important games. We don’t just want to qualify for the 2020 European Championship, we want to do so convincingly. We want to play not only successfully, but also attractively, with a great deal of enthusiasm to get our fans feeling inspired again – with young players and courageous, assertive football. Wolfsburg is where it’s all going to start.

You’ve never played at the Volkswagen Arena, but have you ever been there?
The only international match in Wolfsburg so far took place in 2003 – directly between the end of my active national team career in 2002 and the beginning of my time as manager in 2004. As a spectator, though, I have experienced the Volkswagen Arena as a modern and compact yet sizable stadium with a fantastic atmosphere. Unfortunately, I missed the VfL championship party in 2009. I’m looking forward to returning to the Volkswagen Arena on March 20 and being even closer to the action this time.

Oliver Bierhoff scored the Golden Goal against the Czech Republic in the 1996 European final to win the title.

Going forward, the national team will travel in a MAN bus. So whether it’s TVs or Wi-Fi they’re looking for, they really will have it all. Do you still remember your first bus tours as a young pro?
There’s just no comparison between today’s buses and the ones we had. Nowadays, you barely even notice you’re on a bus, they’re that comfortable. There isn’t anything more you could possibly want. When you’re a player spending a lot of time on the bus, this is so important. In the past, the most important equipment was a television set with a VCR. Now there’s no chance of using a difficult journey between matches as an excuse for a bad game!

As a partner of the DFB, Volkswagen is not only supporting the national team, but also football in all its diversity, from amateur to professional level. What do you make of this?
I very much welcome this approach. It suits us perfectly. We are one big football family after all. Even in the national team, we rely on small amateur clubs where children as young as five and six are starting to get involved in the game. Voluntary work at grass-roots level is indispensable. And this includes not only the coaches, but also the parents who take children to games, wash their jerseys, and bake cakes for tournaments. We rely on this level of commitment so that football can continue to be an important part of society.

Oliver Bierhoff (50)

played his first Bundesliga games for Bayer Uerdingen. He then played up front for Hamburger SV and Mönchengladbach. In 1990, the striker moved abroad and became a goal scorer in Austria for Austria Salzburg and in Italy, where he played for Ascoli, Udine, AC Milan, and Chievo Verona from 1991 to 2003. In 1998, Bierhoff became top scorer and footballer of the year in Italy, and participated in the European Championship in England in 1996 as a member of the national team. He scored two goals in the final. His 2:1 victory against the Czech Republic was the first Golden Goal in football history. The World Cup final in 2002 was his 70th and last international match. Bierhoff has been manager of the national team since July 2004.

Plant Tour Impresses the DFB

Launching the partnership: Executive committee of the world’s biggest sporting association meets in Wolfsburg.

Volkswagen is the mobility partner of the German Football Association (DFB). To get to know the new partner even better, the executive committee of the largest German sports association held its first meeting of 2019 in Wolfsburg. The first international match of the year will also take place in the home city of Volkswagen on March 20. The DFB Executive Committee visited the Wolfsburg plant after the first day of the conference. After being welcomed by Plant Manager Stefan Loth, the tour took the visitors on a train through Europe’s largest automotive factory. Among other things, the guests were given an insight into the press shop, body shop, paint shop, and assembly. In Hall 8, the DFB representatives witnessed the wedding, i.e. the production step in which the powertrain and bodywork are brought together. Group CEO Herbert Diess: “It was important for us to show our new partner where the heart of our company beats.” The executive committee, headed by President Reinhard Grindel, was impressed by the tour through the headquarters of the world’s largest automaker. “It was fascinating to see how many gears have to fit together to build a car,” said Grindel. Oliver Bierhoff, who sits on the DFB executive committee as the national team representative, added, “People from many different nations are working together successfully in production. Just like in soccer, it comes down to teamwork. Volkswagen’s employees also form a real team that works hard every day and sticks together.”

Grand tour: Sales Director Jürgen Stackmann (right) and Plant Manager Stefan Loth (center) showed DFB President Reinhard Grindel (left) around Europe’s biggest car factory.

A joint dinner in the Autostadt rounded off the executive committee’s visit program. In addition to Herbert Diess and Jürgen Stackmann, Ralf Brandstätter, and Frank Witter, three other board members took part at the event in the ZeitHaus. The round-table was supplemented by Bernd Osterloh (Chairman of the General Works Council), Thomas Steg (General Representative of the Volkswagen Group for External Relations), Holger Santel (Head of Sales and Marketing Germany), and Peik von Bestenbostel (Head of Group Communications). Stackmann and Santel once again presented Volkswagen’s soccer strategy in detail to the executive committee. With a view to the planned activities around the upcoming international match in the Volkswagen Arena against Serbia, Stackmann said, “We’re glad that we can finally bring our partnership with the DFB to life. Volkswagen wants to be a committed, innovative, creative, and reliable partner for the German soccer. A really good partner, in other words.”

"It was fascinating to see how many gears have to fit together to build a car"

Reinhard Grindel, DFB President