Bayern Munich's Off-the-Field Antics Continue to Spoil Near-Perfect Season

Stefan Bienkowski@@SbienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2014

Uli Hoeness,  president of German soccer club Bayern Munich,  waits at the regional court in Munich, southern Germany Thursday March 13, 2014. Hoeness has been  sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison on Thursday  in a tax evasion case.  The 62-year-old Hoeness was charged with dodging 3.5 million euros (US $4.85 million) in taxes, but when his trial opened Monday he admitted avoiding 15 million euros more. Then it came out through an examination of documents he provided to investigators shortly before the trial that he owed 27.2 million euros in total - a number Hoeness did not dispute.  (AP Photo/Christof Stache,Pool)
Christof Stache/Associated Press

It's hard to tell what kind of week FC Bayern Munchen have had. On the one hand, we have their triumphant qualification for the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Arsenal to go alongside a lead at the top of the Bundesliga that now stretches to 20 points.

Yet on the other, we have a whole host of mishaps and historical mistakes behind the glossy front of the club's premium and aesthetically pronounced Allianz Arena.

FC Bayern may still be marching on from one game to the next, but FC Hollywood has taken over all other aspects of the club and begun undermining the former's success. 

Up first, we have the serious and monumental court case of Uli Hoeness—Bayern's club president and former player—who spent Tuesday evening in the stands as he watched his European conquering side take one step closer to retaining their title before spending Thursday afternoon in a court room where he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for tax fraud calculated to have cost the state more than €28.5 million.

Ross Dunbar

To describe Hoeness as anything but the father of modern Bayern would be an insult to the club and the very man himself. He was able to return such a side to prominence through fiscal planning and a tight understanding of modern economics that rescued an institution that was in a real rut in the late '80s and early '90s.

Yet as our very own Jerrad Peters put it yesterday in his column on the topic, the former Bayern great has not only sullied his own name, but that of a club that has worked its way to the top of European football through hard and honest work. Its financial and sporting muscle could challenge any club in the world with talent on the pitch such as Franck Ribery and Mario Gotze and business partners off it like Adidas and Audi.

In a statement on the Bayern home page today, Hoeness wrote:

Furthermore I hereby resign the offices of president of FC Bayern München e.V. and chairman of the FC Bayern München AG supervisory board with immediate effect. By doing so I wish to avert further damage to my club. FC Bayern München is my life’s work and will always remain so. I will continue to be associated with this magnificent club and its people in other ways for as long as I live.

A sad day for a great of modern football and the club that he has grown to become synonymous with. 

As if that wasn't enough for one week, the club and current coach Pep Guardiola in particular were bombarded with further bad press when another former club legend—this time West German captain and former club president Franz Beckenbauer—stated that the current side were "unwatchable like Barcelona" whilst on Sky Deutschland on Tuesday evening. 

He said, "We're going to end up being unwatchable like Barcelona. The players will start passing the ball back even on the goal line," he told Sky, as reported later by Marca.

"I have a different vision. If I had the chance to shoot from distance, particularly up against a tight defence, I'd take it. That's the most efficient way [to play], though it's 100% up to the players."

Such comments come off the back of a long list of regular bust-ups between Beckenbauer and any given coach, but it stands as a perfect example of how this club can sometimes turn within itself even if they have a good thing going. 

Any club in the world would welcome the guidance of ex-Barcelona coach Guardiola and the expertise he has so clearly put towards what seems like another inevitable treble for the Bavarian side, yet this one have found a way of criticising the credentials of a team that have amassed a somewhat perfect season. 

Then came something that Bayern never thought they'd have to worry about—a "come and get me" plea from one of their finest players, Toni Kroos, ahead of the important clash with Arsenal on Tuesday night, as reported by the Telegraph:

It is no secret that the Premier League is a possibility for me.

Yes, I have heard about these rumours. A lot has been written about it [in England] and the German media like to take over this story also.

I am a person where a lot is possible for me. No decision has been made about this yet. No one has come to any agreement about this and that will stay like this until the summer.

When asked if he would join a club like Manchester United even if they were not playing Champions League football next season, Kroos replied that he would "consider everything" before he chose to leave.

Although nothing has come of the young player's comments, considering he did play a role in his club's nullifying of Arsenal, it has again added a black mark to what should have been a welcomed week for the Bavarian champions. 

Bayern now go in to this weekend's tie against Bayer Leverkusen with a healthy advantage over second-placed Borussia Dortmund in a match that should prove relatively stress-free. Yet with the manner in which this club has been dragged through the press over the past few days, this group of players and their talented coach may feel the weight of the world on their near-perfect shoulders. 



    Kingsley Coman set for tests on ankle complaint sustained during Bayern Munich draw with Hertha Berlin

    FC Bayern Munich logo
    FC Bayern Munich

    Kingsley Coman set for tests on ankle complaint sustained during Bayern Munich draw with Hertha Berlin - the official Bundesliga website
    via - the official Bundesliga website

    Hertha Berlin wall too firm for record-seeking Bayern Munich

    FC Bayern Munich logo
    FC Bayern Munich

    Hertha Berlin wall too firm for record-seeking Bayern Munich - the official Bundesliga website
    via - the official Bundesliga website

    Kingsley Coman injury update

    FC Bayern Munich logo
    FC Bayern Munich

    Kingsley Coman injury update

    Bavarian Football Works
    via Bavarian Football Works

    One of the Best Days Ever for 'Dios Messi'

    World Football logo
    World Football

    One of the Best Days Ever for 'Dios Messi'

    via mirror