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Uli Hoeness Steps Down as Bayern Munich President, Accepts Prison Sentence

Uli Hoeness,  president of German soccer club Bayern Munich,  waits at the regional court in Munich, southern Germany Thursday March 13, 2014. Hoeness is accused in a tax evasion case that could land the German soccer legend in prison. Bavarian prosecutors filed charges against Hoeness after he reported himself to authorities for having a previously undeclared Swiss bank account. A verdict is expected today.  (AP Photo/Christof Stache,Pool)
Christof Stache/Associated Press
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2014

Uli Hoeness has confirmed he will step down as Bayern Munich president and doesn't plan to launch an appeal against the three-and-a-half-year prison sentence that was imposed after he was found guilty of tax evasion.

Eurosport broke the details:

Bayern posted Hoeness' official statement in full on the club's website:

After discussing the matter with my family I have decided to accept the judgment 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 München e.V. and chairman of the FC Bayern München AG supervisory board with immediate effect. By doing so I wish to avert further damage to my club. FC Bayern München 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.

Michael Dalder/Associated Press

While Hoeness' decision to accept his charge without a fight always seemed likely, the German's decision to remove himself from the Bayern board will usher in major changes at the Allianz Arena. Hoeness is thought to have evaded taxes of €27.2 million, but escaped a five-year jail sentence after he "voluntarily disclosed his actions to authorities," per The Guardian's Philip Oltermann.

Hoeness' footballing career yielded great success, both as a player and a Bayern official. He has won every major trophy possible in some capacity—highlighted by capturing the European Championship and World Cup with West Germany during the 1970s—and bows out after last year's five-trophy haul for Bayern.

The previously admired 62-year-old now faces a different challenge after being convicted for the "biggest mistake" of his life.

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 13:  A Bayern Muenchen fan holds up a banner reading 'Freedom for Uli' to support president of Bayern Muenchen Ulrich Hoeness in front of the Higher Regional Court on March 13, 2014 in Munich, Germany. President of Bayern Muenchen
Alexandra Beier/Getty Images

Writing on his blog for The Guardian, Raphael Honigstein suggested that, although Hoeness originally intended to appeal, his jail sentence wouldn't start until the next hearing had concluded. In any case, he suggests Hoeness "is only likely to serve half the sentence," saying he "might even be allowed regular day leave."

"There is no obvious heir in place to assume the mantle and the club are wary of a future without their leader," continues Honigstein.

Hoeness' removal from the board coincides with major change on the pitch, as Pep Guardiola continues to get to grips with life in Germany.

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 13:  Bayern Muenchen fans hold up banners for president of Bayern Muenchen Ulrich Hoeness in front of the Higher Regional Court on March 13, 2014 in Munich, Germany. President of Bayern Muenchen Ulrich Hoeness is sentenced to three
Alexandra Beier/Getty Images

The Spanish manager has adapted well after a legendary spell with Barcelona and looks set to land plenty of silverware in his new position. This is best summarised by the team's unbeaten domestic season and simple qualification into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Bayern is a family club, one made up of former players such as Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, many of whom were installed by Hoeness. The tight-knit group will need to pull together and quickly move beyond a situation that has threatened to damage Bayern's reputation across the globe.

The best way for Bayern to overcome such difficulties is with results on the pitch. Bayer Leverkusen visit the Allianz Arena on March 15, a match that sees the post-Hoeness era begin with a bang.

 


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