FRANKFURT: German former World Cup star Christoph Metzelder has been sentenced to a suspended 10-month prison term after pleading guilty in Dusseldorf to possession of child pornography and having shared the images contents on WhatsApp.

Metzelder admitted sharing 18 files of child and juvenile pornography and also apologised to the victims of sexual violence.

He told the court: “I will accept the sentence and I apologize to the victims of sexual violence. I will bear all my life with the guilt of having caused this evil to society.”

Metzelder played for Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Schalke. He was the starter of the German team that was runner-up in the 2002 World Cup and third in 2006.

He pleaded partially guilty to the charges against him -that is, those related to those 18 files-, although not of the close to 300 that the prosecution’s accusation included. The sentence gives as proven at least 26 cases of possession and exchange of this type of content.

In the reading of the charges against the former player, the prosecution included details about one of the cases, in August 2019, in which he shared images of abuse of a ten-year-old girl on successive days, reports the regional public television WDR.

The first statement of the 40-year-old former player focused at the beginning of his career as a professional, his commitment to different social projects, as well as the public recognition obtained both in the field of football and in the private sphere.

He did not comment then on the charges against him, although he insisted that since September 2019 he has been retired and concentrated in private. After a pause in the hearing, his statement was resumed, which was followed by a partial confession.

After that confession, Metzelder declared that he would return the distinctions obtained, including the Federal Cross of Merit, the highest institutional recognition granted by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Suspicions came to light through the media in September 2019. Initially, the identity of the former player was preserved from the judicial establishment.

But media such as the tabloid daily Bild spread the case citing him as a suspect, while the main implicated is a woman, out of the total of three with whom he apparently shared those files.

Last September saw the Düsseldof Prosecutor’s Office register its formal accusation and approve searches related to the case and the police seized various objects, including at least a mobile phone and a computer.