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Justice

Opinion: A sign of decency

Uli Hoeness won't appeal his tax trial verdict and will go straight to jail. For this, the former Bayern Munich president deserves respect, despite everything he's done, says DW sports editor Andreas Sten-Ziemons.

The Uli Hoeness trial is over for good, unless the prosecution decides to appeal the verdict. Hoeness has accepted the three-and-a-half-year prison sentence in a written statement. In a knee-jerk reaction, his lawyers had said they would appeal the verdict right when it was announced to save their client from a prison sentence. Now, Hoeness has asked them not to. This step warrants respect.

Now there is no way around it anymore: Hoeness, who used to hob-nob with politicians, corporate moguls and other A-listers, is going to jail. It's hard to imagine what such a long fall must mean to a proud person like him. But Hoeness' recognition of the verdict also allows a glimpse into his character. During the tax investigation against him, he realized just how big his mistakes really were and now he is facing the music. No more hiding, no more excuses.

One can only speculate about whether Hoeness was also motivated by fear of potentially even higher penalties in an appeal trial. It's safe to say that he was weary of further months of public scrutiny. Maybe he's also hoping to reduce the sentence significantly by accepting it up front? Who knows. It's a fact, however, that he has passed up the chance of emerging from a second trial scot-free.

Protecting his life's work

As a logical consequence of his conviction, he stepped down from his posts as president of Bayern Munich and a member of the soccer club's board of directors - almost too late. It was indeed a little strange to hear Uli Hoeness admit to evading millions more in taxes than originally thought Tuesday morning and then see him cheer on Bayern Munich in their win over Arsenal Tuesday night.

Hoeness' soccer era is definitely over now. He is withdrawing from his positions to protect Bayern Munich, his life's work. That decision comes as a consistent follow-up: in the past 44 years, Hoeness has done everything for the club, first as a player, later as commercial manager and finally as president.

After everything the public has learned about Uli Hoeness over the last year, not a lot of his former gleaming reputation remains intact. With the decision to accept the verdict - and thus his guilt - instead of trying to find a way around it, Hoeness has managed to regain at least a remnant of respect.

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