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Nov 15, 2013

Bayern backing of Hoeness criticised

Bayern Munich’s public backing of club president Uli Hoeness at a news conference on Wednesday has led Germany to look like a "banana republic", Wolfgang Siebel has warned.

Uli Hoeness is reduced to tears at Bayern Munich's AGM.
Uli Hoeness has served Bayern Munich as a player and manager.

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The renowned German professor, who lectures politics at the University of Konstanz, is a frequent commentator on national scandals and has accused both the club and Hoeness of disrespecting the country’s legal system.

Hoeness is awaiting trial for tax evasion next year and gave an emotional news conference at Bayern Munich’s annual general assembly where he was supported and championed by chief-executive Karl-Heinz Rummenige and club members.

Chants of "Uli Hoeness, you are the best man" were heard as the former Bayern Munich player and manager revealed his legal woes and asked for a vote of confidence from board members after the trial, sparking fury among Siebel and others.

"This is a fatal situation for public integrity," he said, adding that the Hoeness case had developed into a “Berlusconi-like situation."

"Youths now sport their Bayern scarfs in Munich and continue their “Uli, Uli” chants in the direction of a tax evader. That, especially with the younger ones, leads to a loss of respect for our legal system."

Sylvia Schenk, sports commissioner of the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International echoed Siebel’s thoughts, accusing Hoeness of adopting a "false camaraderie".

"Hoeness has not understood until today, that credibility and reputation should not be confused with emotions and recognition of the base," she said.

Earlier this year, Hoeness filed a voluntary disclosure admitting he had made a mistake with paying tax on a Swiss bank account, with German media quoting the estimated sum at 3.2 million euros.

The Bayern president could face anything from a heavy fine to a five-year jail sentence if convicted at the court hearing in March 2014 but is hopeful of being acquitted.

"I made a big mistake by not having investment income abroad taxed. I did not take hundreds of millions out of the country," he said, after wiping away tears.

"I have every faith in the Bavarian justice system. I hope this story has a good ending in March. If I am then still allowed to be here then I promise you I will serve this club until the day I stop breathing."

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