Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has insisted he is “not a bad person” as his trial for tax evasion draws closer.
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Hoeness filed a voluntary disclosure in January last year that showed he had not paid tax on money in a Swiss bank account, and he will go before a Munich court in March over the charges.
Speaking at a fan club meeting in Aalen on Sunday, Hoeness -- who had previously been lauded for his charity work -- said: “I don’t want to be glorified as a holy man. I know that I’ve committed a major mistake, but I don’t think that makes me a bad person.”
He has received the backing of the club and, during the Bayern AGM last year, asked for a vote of confidence from the club members.
Bayern’s sporting director, Matthias Sammer, told another fan club meeting on Sunday that Hoeness remained key to the European champions.
Munich-based newspaper Abendzeitung quoted him as saying: “We need Uli. He is our dad!”
Former Bayern defender Breno has revealed that Hoeness has regularly visited him during his imprisonment for arson.
The Brazilian, who is hoping to be released from prison in order to join Sao Paulo, told Bild: “Uli Hoeness has always been very close to me. I have my fingers crossed that he does not have to go to prison. He is a good man, a fantastic person. I hope that everything will turn out fine for him.”
The Hoeness case, which begins on March 10, is expected to last four days. If convicted, Hoeness could be facing imprisonment, parole or a heavy fine.