Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has received the backing of the club amid allegations of tax evasion.
On Monday it was announced that Hoeness will go before a Munich district court in March 2014 over charges of tax evasion.
Should Hoeness be sentenced during the trial, he could face imprisonment of up to five years, with a heavy fine or a parole sentence also possible.
Following the announcement of the trial by the Higher Regional Court in Munich to press charges, Bayern released a press statement that backed him as the chairman of the supervisory board.
The statement said Hoeness "is an important leader for FC Bayern" while it highlighted two recent polls in which he was supported by the vast majority of the club's members.
And Bayern honorary president Franz Beckenbauer told reporters in Munich that he hopes for a second chance for Hoeness.
“Maybe it is a good opportunity for him to lift the lid on everything and to prove that it was indeed a mistake. And I think, you should not judge anyone who once committed a mistaken,” Beckenbauer said.
“Even the Catholic church grants you a second chance. So please, why shouldn’t the public and the court do that as well?”
Speaking ahead of the Plzen game on Monday afternoon, Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said: “The biggest favour we can do for him is to win our games and be successful.”
However, Joachim Poss, the vice-chairman of the Social Democrat parliament faction, told Koelner Stadt-Anzeige: “Hoeness has become a symbolic figure for the upper class crime."
The politician attacked the Bayern board, which consists of members of the German companies including Audi, VW, Adidas and Telekom.
“The constitutional and moral-ethical ignorance of those top managers is outrageous,” he said. “I, by all means, have other constitutional and moral ideas than those influential men. That leaves you speechless at times.”
Juergen Trittin, the long-time leader of the Green party, who stepped down following the recent national polls, wrote on Twitter that he had his doubts if the bosses would apply the same standards to their own companies. “Would you remain on the Audi or Adidas board with an approved tax evasion charge?” he tweeted.
Poss and Trittin were backed in several German media outlets on Tuesday, who urged Hoeness to at least hold his offices in abeyance until the court ruling. The German broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented that Hoeness’ “insistence on staying at the top of the club” has a “fatal impact” on German sports.
And the local Munich paper Abendzeitung commented that while Hoeness indeed had done a lot for the club, and the fans love him, that was not the question in this matter.
“But this judgement of the situation leads to the interpretation that the merits for the club weigh heavy and the evasion of millions is a bagatelle, which does not damage the office. This stance is unworthy of the number one in the world in club football," they commented.