• Germany's news in English
 

'Hoeneß can't preach water and drink wine'

The Local · 23 Apr 2013, 07:00

Published: 23 Apr 2013 07:00 GMT+02:00

He's skipped the last match against Hannover, but on Tuesday Uli Hoeneß will be in the stadium to watch Bayern face FC Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals. The very fact that his presence at such an important match would be questioned at all shows the dimensions of the tax evasion scandal enveloping Hoeneß.

The FC Bayern president has turned himself in for dodging taxes and paid an advanced fine payment running into millions of euros, according to Focus magazine, the publisher of which sits on the football club's governing board.

Authorities are thought to have searched his lakeside house at Bavaria's scenic Tegernsee - despite the fact he turned himself in, which appears just as unusual as the fact that his admission had been leaked to the public.

The rumour circulating at the weekend that Hoeneß had stashed away a sum of more than €500 million has more or less been debunked. But we can be more certain that the Bayern boss failed to declare a seven figure sum in interest profits.

Still, Hoeneß has a good chance of getting off because he turned himself in. But the case isn't only a matter for the courts - it concerns the most important and powerful man in German football for the past two decades.

Duties, discipline, business ethics

Hoeneß may occasionally fight with dirty methods, like with the secret marketing rights deal he made in 2003 (in which an undeclared six figure sum was transferred from KirchMedia into the club's funds). But even for many critics, Hoeneß appears to be a moral and honest man.

Hoeneß always put great importance in morals, they were his instrument. He wanted to be more than a football club chairman, he chatted on talk shows and at business conferences all about social duty, discipline and business ethics.

He used his credibility to advertise for financial products. Many people wanted Hoeneß to go into politics, he was a kind of shadow president for many Germans, and he would even frequently chat with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking to TV talk show host Günther Jauch about the possibility of raising taxes, he recently said: "We'll get nothing out of it! At the end the rich will go to Austria and to Switzerland." He also said "Drinking wine and preaching water, that won't get us very far."

This was the style with which he has led his club, and both became famous. Hoeneß was FC Bayern, FC Bayern was Hoeneß. The private man is hard to separate from the president. He stood for steady, solid finances.

He distances himself just as much from the turbo capitalism of the Russians and Arabs in English and French football as from the wasteful extravagance of the Spanish or Italian clubs. He's a man with a long way to fall.

How far the well-meaning patriarch now descends remains to be seen. Hoeneß wants to continue to lead Bayern at least. He is not thinking about stepping down, he told Sport Bild. But he won't be able to lead in the same style as before, as a champion of conservative values, as a squeaky-clean role model.

It might suddenly become more difficult for him to criticise FIFA president Joseph Blatter's "pigsty." He might find himself on slightly less solid ground when he demands that UEFA president Michel Platini punish those who contravene the organization's Financial Fairplay regulations.

And in the debate about sharing out TV revenue, some of his Bundesliga competitors, at least the squeaky-clean ones, can always remind him of a certain Swiss account.

This commentary was published with the kind permission of ZEIT ONLINE, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Formula One
Rosberg 'overwhelmed' by birth of daughter
Formula One Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg with his wife Vivian. File photo: DPA

Rosberg 'overwhelmed' by birth of daughter

7 minutes ago

Star Formula One driver Nico Rosberg confirmed on Monday that he and his wife Vivian are now the parents of a baby girl, saying the couple were “overwhelmed and totally in love”.

'No limit to refugees Germany can take in'
Refugees arrive at an intake centre. Photo: DPA

'No limit to refugees Germany can take in'

1 hour ago

Germany's top official dealing with refugees said on Monday that there was 'no upper limit' to Germany's capacity for taking in people in need of asylum.

Berlin orchestra's Tehran concert blocked by Iran
Daniel Barenboim. Photo: DPA

Berlin orchestra's Tehran concert blocked by Iran

2 hours ago

Iran has barred famed conductor Daniel Barenboim from entering the Islamic republic because of his Israeli citizenship, thwarting his plan to lead a performance in Tehran, media reported Sunday.

Bundesliga
Dortmund reclaim top spot with Hertha win
Borussia Dortmund celebrate scoring against Hertha Berlin. Photo:DPA

Dortmund reclaim top spot with Hertha win

2 hours ago

Borussia Dortmund reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga from Bayern Munich on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Hertha Berlin -- their eighth straight win under new coach Thomas Tuchel.

Germany's friendship vow to Afghanistan
Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Afghanistan on Sunday. Photo:DPA

Germany's friendship vow to Afghanistan

2 hours ago

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that German friendship with Afghanistan had "no end date" as he visited Kabul under tight security on Sunday.

Migrants crisis
German media and celebs rally for refugees
A welcome party for refugees in Heidenau on Friday. Photo: DPA

German media and celebs rally for refugees

17 hours ago

Germany may have witnessed violent anti-refugee protests this week -- but the message from the country's media and celebrities is a loud and determined welcome for people fleeing the horrors of war.

Buzz grows over Poland Nazi treasure train
Ksiaz Castle in Poland, around where the treasure is fabled to be. Photo: Drozdp, via Wikimedia Commons

Buzz grows over Poland Nazi treasure train

23 hours ago

Poland's deputy culture minister has claimed to have seen a ground-penetrating radar image of the alleged Nazi train that has set off a gold rush, adding that he is 99 percent sure it exists, while other sources claim the treasure has already been found.

Migrants crisis
Mass pro-refugee rally held in Dresden
Photo: Oliver Killig / Picture Alliance / DPA

Mass pro-refugee rally held in Dresden

1 day ago

Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to welcome refugees, an AFP journalist at the scene said, following a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Migrant crisis
Austria refugee tragedy suspects appear in court
Screen shot from video by Andi Schiel

Austria refugee tragedy suspects appear in court

1 day ago

Four defendants were to appear in court in Hungary on Saturday over Austria's migrant truck tragedy, as a "horrified and heartbroken" UN chief called for international action to end Europe's refugee crisis.

German court: Ban on refugee demos must stay
Anti-refugee demonstrators carry a sign accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of being a "traitor to the nation" this week in Heidenau. Photo: DPA

German court: Ban on refugee demos must stay

2 days ago

Update: A German court on Friday night reinstated a ban on rallies in an eastern town hit by violent anti-migrant protests, overturning an earlier decision that found the restriction to be "illegal".

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Weekend of anti-refugee violence shocks Germany
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,967
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd