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Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness charged with tax evasion

updated 2:36 PM EDT, Tue July 30, 2013
Hoeness won three European Cups as a Bayern player, and oversaw this year's Champions League triumph as club president.
Hoeness won three European Cups as a Bayern player, and oversaw this year's Champions League triumph as club president.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness charged with tax evasion by a court in Munich
  • Former West German international's defense team has four weeks to answer charges
  • Issues relates to unspecified Swiss bank account in Hoeness' name

(CNN) -- He's been a principal figure in German football for decades, winning the 1974 World Cup as a player before becoming Bayern Munich's club president, but Uli Hoeness' world could come crashing down after being charged with tax evasion on Tuesday.

The former Bayern star, who won three European Cups as well as a European Championship title with West Germany in 1972, could end up in jail for his transgressions.

After a months-long probe which has attracted considerable interest in Germany, the 61-year-old has been charged following an investigation into unpaid taxes on a Swiss account in his name.

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The news comes just two months after Hoeness presided over an unprecedented feat as Bayern became the first German team to win a league, cup and Champions League treble.

In a statement, the superior regional court in Munich said it must now decide whether the case brought by the local prosecutor's office will go to trial.

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German law states that Hoeness' defense lawyers now have four weeks to respond to the charges, whereupon a judge will decide whether he can dismiss the charges or allow the case to proceed.

"Due to the volume of the investigation files as well as the fact that a defense request to delay answering to the charges for one month was granted, a decision of the court on starting a trial is not expected before the end of September 2013," court spokeswoman Andrea Titz said in the statement.

Tax evasion over and above one million euros ($1.33m) carries the threat of both prison and a financial penalty.

After his arrest in March, the former Bayern forward had offered to temporarily stand down as club president only for the team's board to decide that he should stay in office as they monitored the case.

Hoeness had been released on bail for $6.6 million.

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After joining Bayern as an 18-year-old in 1970, Hoeness -- who could play either in midfield or attack -- became a key player for the club, winning three league titles and three straight European Cups between 1974-1976.

His playing career was cut short by a knee injury at the age of 27, whereupon he joined the club's staff at a time when Bayern were heavily in debt.

After nearly three decades working as the club manager, he replaced former international and club colleague Franz Beckenbauer as Bayern president in 2009.

Nowadays, Bayern are one of the most successful clubs in Europe, with a turnover in its millions, but it is unclear how the tax probe will affect the standing of the powerful club president.

The revelations sparked huge controversy in Germany in an election year, with opponents of Chancellor Angela Merkel accusing her of being weak on the issue of tax evasion by wealthy individuals.

The Chancellor has previously expressed her disappointment in Hoeness' conduct.

Read: Dortmund sink Bayern in Super Cup

As former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola took charge for the first time in a competitive game, Bayern started their season in disappointing fashion on Saturday when losing the German Super Cup to Borussia Dortmund, the team they beat at Wembley in May.

They begin the defense of their Bundesliga title when taking on Borussia Monchengladbach at the Allianz Arena on August 9.

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