BERLIN (AP) — Uli Hoeness won't appeal against his prison sentence for tax evasion, and stepped down Friday as president of European champion Bayern Munich to prevent damage to the club he described as his "life's work."
Hoeness, one of the most prominent figures in German football, was convicted on Thursday of evading millions of euros (dollars) in tax through an undeclared Swiss bank account and sentenced to 3½ years in prison. The verdict drew a largely positive response in a country where tax evasion is deeply and increasingly frowned upon.
Hoeness' lawyer initially said he would file an appeal. However, Hoeness said in a brief statement on Bayern's website that he decided after talking with his family to accept the verdict.
"This corresponds with my personal understanding of decency, attitude and personal responsibility," he wrote. "Tax evasion was the mistake of my life. I am facing up to the consequences of this mistake."
Hoeness said he was stepping down immediately as club president and as the chairman of Bayern's supervisory board. He said he wanted "to prevent damage to my club."
"Bayern Munich is my life's work and it will always remain so," he said. "I will remain linked with this great club and its people in other ways as long as I live."
Hoeness thanked Bayern supporters and his friends for their support. The club stood by him through the investigation.
Last year's revelations that Hoeness was the target of a tax evasion investigation prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman to say the German leader was disappointed in the Bayern president, who also was well-known for his generosity and charity work. Hoeness supported an effort to improve the integration of immigrants that Merkel also backed.
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