Amid the Bayern Munich celebrations after a remarkable year, Uli Hoeness is reduced to tears over his ongoing tax scandal

The president of the treble winners has been overwhelmed with the solidarity the club has displayed

It should have been a triumphant evening in Munich for Uli Hoeness. The Bayern president was presiding over what was arguably the most successful AGM in the club’s 113 year history. It was a night of celebration. But Uli Hoeness wept openly.

On the field, Bayern had won the treble, and by extension their fifth European Cup. They had won the league with a 25 point advantage over second placed Borussia Dortmund and, a third of the way into the current season, were table toppers once again. They had secured the services of Pep Guardiola to continue the legacy of Jupp Heynckes, and signed a host of the world’s most gifted midfield stars.

Financially, too, the club had every right to be smug last night. A record turnover of 432.8m Euros, and profits of 14m Euros made for some comfortable reading for those in the red half of Munich. Predictably, membership had also risen to 223,985, leaving the club only a short way behind leaders Benfica as the sports club with the second highest amount of members in the world.

But this night, despite all that, was always going to be about Hoeness. Not because of the way he has shaped this football club over the last thirty years, nor for the rather obvious reason that he is the president of the club. It was about Hoeness because in March, the man who embodies FC Bayern will be in court and, in the worst case scenario, may face prison.

The scandal over Hoeness’ Swiss bank account has wound along inseparably from the club’s successes in 2013, from the moment he made a self-declaration of unpaid tax in January, through his arrest in March, the revelation of the entire story in the press at Eastertime, and the boos that rang through Wembley as the Bayern players briefly passed him the European Cup in May.

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness is reduced to tears at the club's annual general meeting Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness is reduced to tears at the club's annual general meeting  

It is a testament to how significant Uli Hoeness, FC Bayern and football are to the cultural landscape of Germany that this story has made front pages time and again over the last seven or eight months. Angela Merkel was one of the first to express her disappointment in Hoeness, while leading members of the Social Democratic Party SPD were quick to pounce on the story, with then party candidate Peer Steinbrück declaring it indicative of the Coalition’s laziness in dealing with tax agreements with Switzerland. 

Hoeness’ self declaration meanwhile, has allegedly correlated with an unprecedented rise in other citizens doing the same thing. The amount of tax evaders who declared their own errors was as high as 9186 in the first half of 2013.

Then, there is of course the footballing side. With pressure from many political and public figures for Hoeness to resign from his posts as Chairman and President of FC Bayern, the club has refused to budge. The board declined to ask him to leave last Easter, and he has enjoyed the unerring support of those around him in football ever since. It was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s speech at the AGM last night which set the tears rolling down Hoeness’ face.

“Uli is the spiritus rector of this club. Without his engagement and his commitment, it would not be what it is and represents. Friendship reveals itself, when you stand by one another in difficult times. I have the impression, that I am not the only friend of Uli Hoeness here; that the whole of FC Bayern is his friend.”

For Hoeness, the emotion was too much. And after all the errors and silence of the preceding months, it was his turn to thank the club for that solidarity. “I am overwhelmed, not just from Karl-Heinz’s speech, but from the reaction of all our members. Thank you so much.”

Then came the question of the future. The man who was voted as president with a majority of 97.1 per cent at the last throw promised his fans that after the trial, he would call a meeting and a vote on his position as president and chairman. “I made a mistake. I am not absolving myself of that. I will accept any vote and decision, and will give you the right to decide if I am still the right president for this club.”

It was a bittersweet end to a remarkable year in the history of this club. The staggering growth of its on field reputation coupled with the incredible potential of the Hoeness scandal to destroy that reputation have re-established FC Bayern München as one of the most interesting clubs in world football. Last night, they could celebrate and profess solidarity. Now all they can do is wait for March, when Uli Hoeness will learn his fate.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine