Uli Hoeness recently spoke at the panel discussion at the Bonn Academy for Research and Teaching where he was asked about a handful of different topics, captured by Bild. The Bayern Munich President gave comments on commercialization, the potential European Super League, mega-money transfers, and increasingly high player wages, and he even defended Franck Ribery’s golden steak riff from earlier this year.
Bayern, both as a football club and as a brand have proven themselves to be true pioneers when it comes to commercialization. The initiatives and efforts the club puts forward to help connect fans and create a streamlined experience have made Bayern one of the fastest growing brands in modern sports. Hoeness seems to regard the trend toward ever greater commercialization and globalization as a necessity:
I think about it a lot, but I have not found a way to solve how one could compete at the top level without commerce, commercialization, and globalization. I have the greatest respect for the work of SC Freiburg, but it’s also clear that they’ll never be able to win the Champions League. Either you play along with the Big Clubs or in the Amateur League.
In recent weeks, talks of a potential European Super League have accelerated. It’s understood that the front offices of several top European clubs would be in favor of establishing such a league in the future. Despite potential interest from both Hoeness and club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Hoeness said that the Bundesliga is still the most important thing for Bayern, especially right now:
It must not happen that there’s no Bundesliga on Saturdays because of international games. The Bundesliga remains the most important thing for FC Bayern. That is a clear decision of our Supervisory Board.
Hoeness has long been a critic of over-inflated transfer fees; there’s no disguising that. In today’s increasingly lucrative transfer market, though, Hoeness admits that they are inevitable, if one wants to keep up with top clubs who splash the cash for top talents:
I would not like to buy any player for €80 or €100 million. But if you want to keep up with Manchester City, Liverpool, or Barcelona, then you sometimes just have to do things that I don’t like. We got Hernandez; the good thing is that we can do that with our fixed-term deposit account.
As far as salaries, Hoeness feels that players should make what they deserve:
The key thing is that the players earn what they deserve. At FC Bayern, the players earn the most, but we’re making the biggest profit in our history this year. FCB also pays €100 million in payroll tax, from which the state profits immensely.
It’s also no secret that many players are very active on their social media accounts. Franck Ribery was criticized earlier in the season for posting a video in which “Salt Bae” presented him a golden steak while he was on holiday. In hindsight, Hoeness said that too much was made out of that situation and referred to the scandal as “fake news.” He joked that Ribery would have defused the situation by ostentatiously rejecting the glittery meal:
I listened very closely to this story; it was fake news. Franck was mistreated in this case. The only mistake was that he didn’t throw the steak against the wall. He didn’t even eat the steak [i.e. in the video]. He should have thrown it against the wall, and everything would have been fine.
Hoeness went on to say that he feels that the media monitors the players and club far too closely, and too many things get blown out of proportion far too easily. Times were different during his playing career, he recounted:
The young people are completely overwhelmed by what’s reported about them. Every fart is noted. Our carefree times were nice.
Hoeness described how the team and coach Udo Lattek all went to Oktoberfest in his playing days:
We were there twelve hours. Half of us were drunk. It went on until someone in the back threw up at some point. Can you imagine if that happened today?