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Wednesday 26 April 2017

Bayern's Hoeness not a fan of big World Cup

Bayern Munich's Uli Hoeness. Photo: Reuters/Michaela Rehle/File Photo
Bayern Munich's Uli Hoeness. Photo: Reuters/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness feels that he has not lost any respect among his peers but has become more humble and less outspoken after serving time in prison for tax evasion.

Hoeness was jailed from June 2014 until February last year for tax evasion when he was released after serving half of his 3 and a half-year term. He was re-elected unopposed as Bayern president in November.

The 65-year-old former West Germany international, who from early 2015 was allowed out of jail during the day, said the ex-Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was among those who wrote to him while he was in prison.

Hoeness, first elected as Bayern president in 2009, stepped down after being convicted in March 2014 for evading €28.5m in taxes.

Until then, he had frequently railed against soccer's governing body FIFA, among other issues.

"I still have my opinions but I don't air them so much in public, especially when it involves politics," he said. "It has naturally changed me, I have become more reflective, tolerant and humble."

Bayern said that 6,986 members had voted in favour of Hoeness resuming his tenure, 108 voted against and 58 abstained.

Hoeness was not afraid to duck other issues, however. He said he was "not a fan" of FIFA's decision to increase the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams and repeated a recent remark that he wanted to hear "more German" in the Bayern dressing-room.

"I simply don't believe the there are 48 very, very good teams in the world," he said.

"At Bayern, more German needs to be spoken in the changing room," he said. "I would like as many Germans as possible to play for us.

"Arsenal have played matches without a single English player and that for me is unimaginable."

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