Former German footballer Christoph Metzelder has been given a suspended prison sentence for distributing child pornography.
The 40-year-old partially admitted the accusations against him as his trial began at Dusseldorf District Court on Thursday.
Metzelder was accused of possessing child and youth pornography and of forwarding 29 files to three different women, including a former partner.
Prosecutors told the court that the former footballer had shared photos via WhatsApp showing the sexual abuse of girls under 10 years old in August 2019.
Around 297 files with sexual content involving children or adolescents were found on his mobile phone during the investigation.
Metzelder was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment on probation. His trial was initially scheduled to last until early May.
“I accept the punishment and ask forgiveness from the victims of sexual violence,” Metzelder said before the ruling. “I will have to live the rest of my life with this guilt.”
Metzelder was a runner-up with Germany at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He also represented his country at the 2008 UEFA European Championships, winning 47 caps in total.
He enjoyed a successful playing career as a defender with Preußen Munster, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, and Spanish giants Real Madrid.
After retiring in 2013, he worked as a television pundit and also set up his own foundation that supports projects for children and young people.
Metzelder stepped down as president of his hometown club TuS Haltern in September 2019 when the allegations against him were made public.
At the time, he was also working as a coach with the German Football Association.