The Bayer 04 Leverkusen professional soccer team is the "flagship“ of the Bayer’s top teams and represents the peak of the pyramide of around 50,000 members in 26 Bayer sports clubs.
Bayer 04 also enjoyed a large measure of national and international success from the 1990s onward. In 1993, it won the DFB Cup and, since the 1992/93 season, the team has finished high enough in the league to qualify for European competition on no fewer than 17 occasions. Achievements definitely worth mentioning include finishing as second in the German league five times and reaching the 2002 Champions League final. This record has given the team the reputation as being perennial runners-up, which is reflected in the affectionate nickname “Vizekusen”. Players such as Ulf Kirsten, Bernd Schneider, Bernd Schuster, Carsten Ramelow, Michael Ballack and Rudi Völler are just some of the players who have contributed to the club's successes.
As early as 1907, the Bayer players showed their affiliation with the company by wearing a kit that sported the Bayer lion with a globe and Mercury's staff. The team wore shirts bearing the Bayer Cross for the first time in a promotion game against Solingen 95 in 1936. It has been a permanent feature around the club for over 75 years and is now also part of the logo of the wholly owned Bayer AG subsidiary Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH. The Bayer Cross also enjoys pride of place on the roof of the BayArena stadium.
Bayer AG's commitment to soccer has always been a form of advertising to boost the image of the entire company. The Bayer team acts as a popular ambassador for Bayer AG, reflecting the values of the corporate philosophy worldwide and conveying them in a unique way through the club's name.