Berlin - Uli Hoeness will complete his redemption on Friday
when re-elected president of Bayern Munich having served out his tax evasion
jail term earlier this year.
The 64-year-old who in his playing days won three European
Cups with Bayern plus the World Cup and European Championships with West
Germany was released in February from Landsberg prison, where Adolf Hitler
wrote 'Mein Kampf'.
He had served half of the three and a half year sentence he
received in March 2014 on seven counts of tax evasion totalling 28 million
Despite his criminal record, Bayern are ready to welcome
back the man whose management skills played a key role in making them Germany's
top club in the past 30 years.
While a return to power in nearly any other walk of life
would be unthinkable, Hoeness is set for a hero's welcome when FC Bayern
Munich's members vote for a new president during Friday's annual general
The 64-year-old -- as the only candidate -- is set to be
re-elected 987 days after resigning when he boldly declared "it's not
His predecessor, Karl Hopfner, who replaced him in 2014, has
refused to run again, paving the way for Hoeness.
"For Uli, there was never any other thought than coming
back, FC Bayern is for him like the air to breathe," said Jupp Heynckes,
Hoeness' old friend who coached Bayern to the 2013 triple of Bundesliga, German
Cup and Champions League titles.
"It's his baby, his life."
- 'No saint' -
The question in the German media has always been whether
Hoeness would decide to come back, rather than whether he should.
There is certainly plenty of support from senior figures in
"It's awesome for FC Bayern and all its fans that Uli
is coming back," said Matthias Sammer, the former sports director of both
the German Football Association (DFB) and Bayern.
"He's no saint, not without his faults, but he's paid
for his mistakes."
Oliver Kahn, the ex-Germany and Bayern goalkeeper, said
Hoeness' return is "good for him and Bayern".
Guenter Netzer, who played alongside Hoeness in the West
Germany side which won the 1974 World Cup, was equally enthusiastic.
"It would have been the wrong decision if Uli Hoeness
hadn't decided to come back," said Netzer.
Also read: Guardiola deserved more credit at Bayern: Hoeness
Very few in the German media question the comeback.
Hoeness' return to Bayern is only possible, "because in
football, morality hangs very low," according to journalist Thilo
The author of "The Hoeness File" points to the
examples of ex-Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn and Germany's former
president Christian Wulff, who both resigned their positions amid scandals.
"Can you imagine that Mr. Winterkorn, who still sits on
the board of the FC Bayern, starting again at VW or Mr. Wulff becoming Federal
President again? That is not imaginable," Komma-Poellath told radio
programme Deutschlandradio Kultur.
But amongst the ranks of Bayern's ever faithful fans,
Hoeness still holds near god-like status.
"Uli made the club what it is today," Bernd
Hoffmann, the chairman of one of Bayern's countless fan clubs, told magazine
Other fans regard Hoeness as "the heartbeat of the
club", whose "voice and presence have been missing".
- Even stronger -
Having been first elected president in 2009, replacing Franz
Beckenbauer, Hoeness has a no-nonsense, father-figure approach.
There are numerous examples of how he has used his status to
help ex-Bayern players down on their luck.
He has also helped struggling clubs by granting
money-spinning home friendlies to low-level clubs against FC Bayern -- who are
always a big draw wherever they play in Germany.
In 2005, he helped Borussia Dortmund avoid bankruptcy by
lending two million euros to keep Bayern's rivals afloat.
While Hoeness has atoned for his tax sins, he insists his
head-strong management style will not change.
"The clear word will continue to be my hallmark, I
certainly won't pussy-foot around," Hoeness told Kicker.
Hoeness will resume his double-act with chairman Karl-Heinz
Rummenigge with the pair pulling the strings behind the scenes.
"I think that Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and I make Bayern
even stronger," Hoeness said in an interview in September.
"I could imagine that Karl-Heinz will be more
responsible for the money and I'll be in charge of the heart (of the
club)," he added with a smile.For
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