• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'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.

Story continues below…

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
Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

What are Merkel's chances for remaining Chancellor?
Photo: DPA.

She's already held the Chancellery for over a decade, but infighting with political allies as well as a rocky response to her refugee policies may put a damper on Angela Merkel's staying power.

German EU commissioner doubts Brexit will happen
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: EPA.

Germany's EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger raised doubts on Tuesday about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn't bet on "Brexit".

Merkel offers Russia a lifting of sanctions - if it behaves
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she has "the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions" against Russia, Reuters reports.

'Idiot' youth lets regional train drive over him as dare
Photo: DPA

In a stunt police have described as "incomprehensible idiocy," a drunk young man from Munich lay down on the tracks in front of a fast-moving train and let it ride over him.

'Unfriendly' Germans make expat life harder: report
Photo: Pexels.com

Expats in Germany generally find it great for families and starting a career, but were turned off by the language barriers and "unfriendly" Germans upon arrival, according to a new report.

Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
7,567
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd