One of the most iconic soccer clubs in all the world, Bayern Munich, are losing their President Uli Hoeness as he heads to prison for tax evasion. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after defrauding German tax authorities of close to 30 million euros. After learning of the sentencing and discussing his options with his family Hoeness decided to forgo an appeal and accept his sentence, while also resigning from all positions at Bayern Munich.
Uli Hoeness is a legend in German soccer helping the West German teams of the 1970’s to a World Cup and European Championship. The forward played in two different European Championships in 1972 and 1976, winning the competition in 1972 and losing a shootout in the final to Czechoslovakia in 1974. In 1974 he helped West Germany win its second World Cup over the Netherlands in front of the home fans as the host nation.
Hoeness is not just a legend for the German National Team but also, and maybe even more so, a legend at Bayern Munich as a player and an executive. As a player he won eight different trophies for the club including three straight German championships from 1972-74 and three straight European Cups from 1974-76. Bayern are one of only three different clubs who have won the European Cup three straight times, the others being Ajax who won the three previous to Bayern’s run in 1971-73 and Real Madrid who won five straight from 1956-60. Prior to Hoeness arrival at the club they had won only seven major trophies two of those being German Championships and had never won any European competition.
While Hoeness’ accomplishments as a player are incredible they might be overshadowed by what he has done for Bayern Munich after his playing career. As soon as his playing career ended he took the job as General Manager for the club. The success he brought on the field only continued once he was in a management role, winning 18 more league titles in Germany and two more Champions League titles as well as reaching the final of the Champions League five more times. Since his appointment to that position not only has the club continued on the field success but he has helped grow the club into one of the largest sports brands on the planet.
With all the success Hoeness has had there is an inevitability of life he tried to avoid, taxes, and now he will be going to prison for three and a half years because of it. The investigation into Hoeness for tax evasion started in April 2013 when his Swiss bank account was brought to light. Initially he was charged with owing 3.5 million euros, but as the trial played out it was revealed that he actually owed 27.2 million euros. Up until his sentencing Bayern had no intention of letting him go and even when he was sentenced it was his own personal decision to step down from the club.
Bayern Munich are in a stable place both on the field and financially so the news of Uli Hoeness heading to prison for tax evasion should not disrupt the club in any other way than just being a public relations headache.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius