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Report: Hoeness’ retirement the result of pressure from Bayern Munich’s front office

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The attacks on Uli Hoeness at Bayern’s 2018 general assembly are why the club president has decided to step aside. The pressure came from within.

RB Leipzig v Bayern Muenchen - DFB Cup Final 2019 Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

The news that Uli Hoeness would not seek reelection as the president of FC Bayern Munich stunned and surprised many supporters of the club and even may have caught CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge himself off guard. A new report by the Frankfurter Rundschau claims that Hoeness’ decision was influenced primarily by pressure from within Bayern’s own front office.

According to FR’s Frank Hellmann, members of Bayern’s own board impressed on Hoeness the need to step aside so as “to ensure the future viability of the largest German soccer club.” Acting president Jan-Christian Dreesen, director of finance, Andreas Jung, director of marketing and sponsors, and Jörg Wacker, director of internationalization and strategy, all supposedly made it clear to Hoeness that his view of the business had lost touch with modern realities.

Hoeness is, in a sense, at odds with the structure of Bayern Munich itself. He is president of Bayern München e.V., the registered club (eingetragener Verein) that serves as the umbrella organization for the various Bayern Munich teams beneath it, from the soccer to the chess team. But in theory it should be Karl-Heinz Rummenigge alone, as CEO of Bayern München AG, the corporate entity that encompasses the soccer team, who calls the shots in all things soccer. In practice, Hoeness should serve in a secondary capacity: in reality, the soccer team has had two direct bosses who have not always seen eye to eye.

That will presumably change once Hoeness steps aside. How his presumptive heir, former Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer, acts remains to be seen, but the current head of Bayern’s supervisory board led a corporate career for forty years after his personal dreams of a professional soccer career ended in 1979. He is no Uli Hoeness.

At FC Bayern München AG, Oliver Kahn will join the club in January 2020 and replace Rummenigge as CEO in 2021. The groundwork thus will have been laid for a functioning separation of powers, with Kahn in firm control of the soccer division. Hainer and the board will presumably guide the club in an advisory capacity with approving power. Kahn himself purportedly gave his own opinion when the front office indicated to Hoeness that he should step aside.

Hoeness’ departure will mean the loss of a powerful patron for some members of the soccer team’s management, although Hoeness will remain a member of the supervisory board. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic could be one protégé left exposed, should Rummenigge and/or Kahn subsequently determine that he is, indeed, at fault for the various difficulties surrounding Bayern’s search for new talent. Even head coach Niko Kovac might be in jeopardy, since Hoeness is generally regarded as his advocate. Kovac’s relationship with Rummenigge has been tense. Rummenigge declined to back him as last season came to a conclusion, although the two have supposedly grown closer since then.

Hoeness is a polarizing figure in German soccer and has become so even at Bayern Munich itself. He is both much beloved and much loathed even among longtime fans. But the future of Bayern Munich after Uli Hoeness remains to be written.