Hoeneß: Top spot is at stake
987 days after stepping down as FC Bayern president Uli Hoeneß returned to the position at the Annual General Meeting on 25 November. Official club journal Bayern-Magazin spoke to the 64-year-old prior to the top clash with RB Leipzig, an interview summarised here by fcbayern.com.
**Mr Hoeneß, how are you feeling during the pre-Christmas period this year?
Hoeneß:"I'm feeling very much at home. Everything's perfect in my private life, and things are going very well at FC Bayern too. My return went smoothly. I feel as if I'd never been away, so I'll enjoy and really celebrate Christmas and the turn of the year. I think I have every reason to."
You have been back as FC Bayern president for about four weeks now. What did returning to the position mean to you?
"A great deal. I concluded a very difficult period in my life and finally sealed my return to normal life. I'm looking ahead now."
You mentioned more than 5,000 letters you received during your term in prison. Which one was the most exceptional?
"There were people who wrote to me on a regular basis. Walter Mennekes was one of them. He wrote to me every week and drew Sudoku puzzles by hand so that I had something to puzzle over. It was a nice thing, just like Ottmar Hitzfeld's visit. Ottmar travelled to Landsberg the day before and stayed in a hotel just to be there at 9 am sharp the next morning. As a matter of principle I was very happy about every visit, but in view of a visiting time of two hours every other week I saved most of it for my family."
How did you follow FC Bayern matches?
"The World Cup was staged at the beginning of my term. We often watched the first half of the early matches together, which was much nicer than alone in your cell of course. During our matches I often read teletext and followed it that way. I exactly remember the match against Wolfsburg, when Robert Lewandowski scored five goals. I feel asleep after we conceded the first goal. The next morning I saw the name Lewandowski five times in a row."
What are your goals for your second term as Bayern president?
"I saw what was happening at FC Bayern during my work on day release, between January 2015 and February 2016. During that time I felt the people here wanted to have my advice and my experience, and hear my opinion. I'll continue to offer it and try to help so that the club advances and is on equal terms with its European competitors. On the other hand I want to be a president who's close to the people and concerned with the members and fans. I'd like to reintroduce the talks with the president to stay in touch with the people, I'd like to know what concerns them. I'll advise and help the board if desired and perform my duties as a member of the committee."
Is the upcoming match against RB Leipzig extraordinary for you too?
"It's special, no question. Regardless of the fact that Leipzig lost their first match this Bundesliga campaign in Ingolstadt, top spot is at stake. And I'd like to celebrate Christmas a few points clear of Leipzig and have a peaceful holiday season."
What do you think of the club? They still face resentment, especially among the fans.
"People can express their opinions freely in a democracy. But if they accept Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg they shouldn't resent RB Leipzig and Red Bull. It's either legitimate for a company to support a club - or it isn't. Personally I think we should abolish the 50+1 rule [clause stating that a members' club must hold a majority of the voting rights in the professional football operation] anyway, for two reasons. On the one hand this rule doesn't exist in international football, and many German clubs have to be able to compete with other leagues. On the other hand I'd like to put an end to the common opinion that FC Bayern are against the abolition of this rule because other clubs might become dangerous. We've issued 25 percent of our shares to adidas, Allianz and Audi, and we're competitive both on a national and an international level, so we'll succeed in the future too."