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May 3, 2013

Hoeness hints at Bayern exit

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has given his first interview since revealing that he is being investigated by the German Revenue Administration for tax evasion.

Speaking to Die Zeit, Hoeness said he was close to having an addiction to gambling on the stock markets and hinted at a possible exit from the Allianz Arena.

He remains at the centre of a media storm in Germany after his tax problems were made public by Focus magazine.

The magazine said the 61-year-old revealed that the investigation centred on a Swiss bank account, quoting him as saying: "I filed a voluntary disclosure about the account to my accountant at the tax office in January 2013."

Following speculation, it was revealed that Hoeness had not paid capital gains tax on a Swiss bank account used for gambling on the stock market.

In his interview with Die Zeit, a rueful Hoeness admitted he had made "a huge mistake" which led to his voluntary disclosure, an arrest in March and a nationwide debate about tax fraud.

"These days, I feel like I am catapulted onto the fringes of society, I am no longer part of it," Hoeness said. "Needless to say, I blame myself massively. I made a huge mistake, but I am not a bad person."

He said he could hardly sleep at night because of the pressure on him and added: "It is a situation I am hardly able to take."

For the first time, Hoeness hinted at a possible exit from Bayern, saying: "If I get the impression my presence damages the club, I will take the consequences. But in no circumstances will I step down before the Champions League final."

Over the course of the last 13 days, several high-ranking politicians have voiced their opinions on the matter, with chancellor Angela Merkel one of the first to comment when she said she was "disappointed" by Hoeness' conduct.

Hoeness said he hoped to have a chance to discuss the issue with Merkel personally so he could explain how "goofs" had happened.

A poll released earlier this week showed that support for Merkel's conservative CDU party had dropped by 3% in the wake of the Hoeness case, six months prior the national election.

Hoeness is seen as an ally of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU.