Former Bayern boss Uli Hoeness is a free man after having served half of his prison term for tax evasion. Now, German media are speculating about what future role he could take on at the country's most successful club.
The former Bayern president slipped quietly out of the detention facility in Rothenfeld, Bavaria early on Monday, after having served 637 days - exactly half of his three-and-a-half-year sentence for tax evasion. The fact that he was to be released on bail this Monday was public knowledge, but somehow the 64-year-old Hoeness managed to escape the attention of the waiting photographers.
Now that Hoeness is out of prison, the German media are full of speculation about what role he might take on back at Bayern Munich. The only thing that appears to be clear is that he will return to the club in some position of leadership. "It's not over," Hoeness promised the membership of FC Bayern at the club's annual general meeting in 2014, shortly before he began serving his sentence.
The speculation has also been fueled by a meeting Hoeness had at Bayern's headquarters last Monday, while he was on day release, involving the club's chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, its president, Karl Hopfner and Franz Beckenbauer, the honorary president. Immediately after that meeting, though, Rummenigge indicated that they had not discussed Hoeness' possible return to the boardroom. "I still have spoken to him about his plans," Rummenigge said.
A week later, though, on the day of Hoeness' release, Beckenbauer seemed to indicate that the former president would return to the club in some capacity.
"First Uli should switch off and then get back in," Beckenbauer told the mass-circulation newspaper "Bild," referring to Hoeness' plan to go on vacation with his family in June.
Not just that, but the "Sport Bild" weekly cited an unnamed source whom it described as being part of Bayern's inner circle, who said that it was clear that Hoeness wanted to "return to power."
Hoeness, who lost 18 kilograms (39 pounds) during his time in prison, has said that he won't make a decision on his future until some time the summer. Speaking in an interview published in last Thursday's edition of the German sports paper "Kicker," the former Bayern boss said that until then, he plans to be just a "normal" supporter.
The former Bayern president, who was convicted in March 2014 of evading 28.5 million euros ($31 million) in tax, is reported to have long since repaid the German authorities, and also donated the money he earned working with one of Bayern's youth teams over the past 14 months.
His first public appearance is scheduled for March 13, when he is to deliver a speech at an event in honor of his good friend Jupp Heynkes, the coach who led Bayern to the treble in 2013.
pfd/sb (SID, dpa)