Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeneß said on Monday that he does not blame Martin Winterkorn or Rupert Stadler, who were accused of being involved in a scandal, and that until a guilty verdict is handed down, accusations don't carry much weight. Winterkorn, the ex-CEO of the German automobile company Volkswagen, has been accused of being involved in the emission scandal and for the installation of illegal “defeat devices” in cars to trick regulators. Like Winterkorn, Audi boss Stadler was connected with the diesel emissions scandal and was arrested in June.
Hoeneß sat down for an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (via TZ) and spoke about why, after all the misconduct, Bayern Munich has decided to stick with the members of the supervisory board. Hoeneß stressed that, in times like these, it is important to remember what the men have done for the club over the years rather than just blaming them for the allegations. He also stated that the friendship between him and Winterkorn would stay the same regardless of his guilt:
Difficult times reveal who stands where and what a friendship is worth. Martin Winterkorn remains my friend.
He told FAS, however, that there will be consequences for the accused board members if the allegations are true:
We aren’t judges here. I also am not pleading to acquit him [Winterkorn] of everything. In the event of an accusation, we would have a different legal situation. If the allegations should prove true, there will be consequences.
Winterkorn has been indicted in the United States and would face potentially 25 years in prison and a fine of $275,000 if convicted — but no trial has taken place because he remains in Germany. Stadler meanwhile remains in custody.
Bayern’s powerful supervisory board has nine members, including Hoeneß himself, Winterkorn, and Stadler; the prospect of two facing serious charges is indeed bad.