Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness vowed on Monday to prove his innocence when he goes on trial next March, accused of hiding millions of euros from tax authorities in a Swiss account.
Uli Hoeness (left) speaks to journalists on November 4, 2013 in Pilsen, on the eve of their Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen
Munich's higher regional court said in a statement Monday that it had agreed to hear the case brought by public prosecutors in July and that proceedings would start on March 10.
No details of the allegations can be released, due to special secrecy requirements in tax trials, before the charges are read in the public hearing.
But the former 1974 World Cup winner with West Germany said he would work tirelessly to convince the court of his innocence in the face of the tax evasion allegations.
"I will work hard in the next four months to make sure our arguments are convincing in front of the court," the 61-year-old told reporters.
"I am surprised my amended returns from January 17 have not been accepted by the authorities."
Hoeness said he has received huge support from fans of European champions Bayern.
"In every meeting, you can feel the 100 percent support of the supervisory board and the fans," he said.
"I have received an unbelievable amount of letters from fans who are behind me as president.
"I have made this mistake as a private individual and will answer it as a private individual.
"But I don't believe my work for FC Bayern has suffered because of it."
Credibility 'in question'
The announcement of a trial increases the likelihood that Hoeness will ultimately have to resign as Bayern chief having helped build the club into one of European football's powerhouses.
Bayern are bidding to reach their fourth Champions League final in five years and Hoeness has spent more than 40 years with the Bavarian giants as player, team manager and, since 2009, as club president.
Despite widespread criticism, Hoeness' initial offer to resign in May was rejected by the club's supervisory board.
In a club statement on Monday, the board again said Hoeness will remain in office "by mutual agreement".
An independent inquiry by legal experts has advised the board that it does not have to request Hoeness' resignation from a legal point of view, but it remains to be seen how long he can survive in office.
"When a supervisory board needs two legal opinions to justify a decision, then it shows how great their own doubts are," Sylvia Schenk of anti-corruption group Transparency International told the Die Welt daily.
"Does a club like Bayern Munich need a figurehead whose credibility for fairness and rule compliance is in question?"
Prosecutors brought the charges against Hoeness after a high-profile probe spanning several months, which has rocked German sport and politics.
Hoeness was arrested on March 20, then released on five million euros ($6.8 million) bail, as part of an investigation into unpaid taxes on a Swiss account in his name.
He admitted in a magazine interview published in April that he had stashed millions of euros away from the German taxman thanks to Switzerland's bank secrecy laws.
Hoeness said he had at first turned himself in to authorities in January over an unspecified amount of unpaid taxes.
He had originally hoped to come forward under an expected German-Swiss tax accord which would have allowed him to settle the matter anonymously with a one-off payment, he told the Focus news weekly.
But Germany's opposition Social Democrats (SPD) torpedoed the measure on the grounds that it unfairly offered criminal amnesty to tax dodgers.
The SPD is currently in negotiations with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives about forming a new "grand coalition" government following September elections, which could see a revival of the bid to forge a tax accord with Switzerland.
The amount of money Hoeness, who also draws income from a successful sausage company, has stashed in the Swiss account, and the taxes owed, were unclear as he and prosecutors have stayed quiet on the details, but were reported to be in the millions of euros.
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