• Germany edition
 
'Hoeneß can't preach water and drink wine'
Photo: DPA

'Hoeneß can't preach water and drink wine'

Published: 23 Apr 2013 07:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 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
Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

Spring back in German consumers' step?
Photo: DPA

Spring back in German consumers' step?

Update: Consumer confidence in Germany has stopped falling, as households appear to be no longer fazed by concerns about the economic fallout from geopolitical crises, a new poll found on Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,528
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd