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Mar 14, 2014

Hoeness will not appeal prison term

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has announced he will step down from his role and not appeal his three-and-a-half-year jail sentence for tax evasion.

Schaaf: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hoeness

Hoeness was found guilty by a Munich court on Thursday of evading 27.2 million euros in tax through an undeclared Swiss bank account.

The 62-year-old's lawyers later announced that they planned to launch an appeal to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice.

However, on Friday Hoeness announced that he will accept the verdict and serve his time in prison. He has also resigned as the president of the football club and as the chairman of the Bayern Munich supervisory board.

Hoeness, 62, said in a statement on the club's official website: "After discussing the matter with my family I have decided to accept the judgement passed by Munich District Court (Landgericht) II regarding my tax affairs.

"I have instructed my legal representatives not to appeal the verdict. This corresponds to my understanding of integrity, decorum and personal responsibility. Evading tax was the biggest mistake of my life. I accept the consequences of this mistake.

"Furthermore I hereby resign the offices of president of FC Bayern Munich. and chairman of the Bayern Munich AG supervisory board with immediate effect. By doing so I wish to avert further damage to my club. FC Bayern Munich 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.

"I wish to thank from the heart my personal friends and all followers of FC Bayern Munich for your support."

Despite Hoeness declining his right to appeal, prosecutors are still to decide whether to make their own appeal in order to get the sentence lengthened.

In closing arguments on Thursday, Achim von Engel for the prosecution recommended a five-and-a-half-year term, saying Hoeness' confession had fallen short of full disclosure.

 "We will decide early next week [whether to appeal]," a prosecution spokesman told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Should prosecutors be successful in taking their appeal to the Federal German Court of Justice the sentence could change either way.  If they decide to not appeal against the sentence, it will become legally recognised.  But, either Hoeness will not immediately begin his term.

"It will certainly take several weeks until he will go into custody," said Andrea Tietz, spokesperson of the Munich district court.

The trial has dominated headlines in Germany all week, to such an extent that even German chancellor Angela Merkel issued a response to Hoeness' announcement.

"The chancellor has respect for the decision expressed by Mr. Hoeness in a personal statement today," Steffen Seibert, the government spokesperson, said in Berlin. "This is a case where the constitutional state took its course."

As a player, Hoeness was part of the West Germany side which won the 1972 European Championship and the World Cup two years later, and was also a member of the Bayern squad which won three consecutive European Cups between 1974 and 1976. 

On Tuesday, he had been at Bayern's Allianz Arena to watch the European champions' 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, although that result was enough to see them progress through to the quarterfinals 3-1 on aggregate.

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