Happy birthday, Uli Hoeness! Bayern Munich’s president is 60 today and remains as energetically focused as ever on his long-time club extending their trophy haul by winning the Bundesliga for a record 23rd time.
But if there were another birthday present on his wish list then the former World Cup and European Championship winner would want the early departure of Sepp Blatter from the FIFA presidency.
Hoeness has long been considered as the most powerful man in German football, more influential than DFB president Theo Zwanziger, for example, and on a par perhaps only with his own Bayern chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Europe’s major clubs have long viewed FIFA with a mixture of disdain, suspicion and derision but it’s Hoeness and Rummenigge who have been the most outspoken: the rest, from Barcelona to Real Madrid to Inter and Manchester United, have kept their views largely to themselves and concentrated their international focus on good Champions League relations with UEFA.
Hoeness has marked his birthday by repeating his earlier calls for Blatter’s departure. He said: “Recent events, for me, are the final proof that probably he should move out before even his term is due to finish in 2015.
“Blatter has the next 12 months in which to explain to everyone exactly how he will clean up the swamp, and if he cannot do them, then we must create the circumstances through which he can be removed.”
The last straw for Hoeness was the statement in which former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner claimed that Blatter had awarded him regional World Cup television rights in the Caribbean in exchange for support in the various FIFA presidential elections.
“Every week it seems there is something new,” said Hoeness. “We left these issues alone for a while but it seemed that things were starting to happen. But we will keep on top of all this again now but it seems everything is boiling up again.”
Reverting to club concerns, Hoeness is looking ahead with pride and expectation to Bayern’s hosting of the 2012 Champions League Final on May 19 in their own AllianzArena.
To win a fifth European crown in their own home would be an achievement matched only previously by Real Madrid (in 1957) and Internazionale (in 1965) and an ideal foundation “to prepare, in five or six years, to hand the club over to a new leadership generation.”
Hoeness, his career ended prematurely by knee trouble, became the youngest general manager in Bundesliga history when he succeeded Robert Schwan at just 27.
By Keir Radnedge