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Former German defender Christoph Metzelder sentenced for child pornography 

German former professional footballer Christoph Metzelder was prosecuted on Thursday, accusing him of distributing child pornography with women in online games. In a district court in the western city of Düsseldorf, the 40-year-old former German and Real Madrid defender is accused of possessing and distributing an illegal image of minors. 

The trial was scheduled to run until May 10 but the conclusion resulted in just one day when Christoph Metzelder admitted his charges on child pornography. Metzelder acknowledged having shared graphic illicit images of minors online, in a court trial on Thursday. “I obtained incriminating pictures that were freely available on the internet (and) took screenshots, I shared extreme fantasies in chats,” he said from the witness stand, in comments reported by AFP sports subsidiary SID.

Prosecutors say the 2002 World Cup finalists sent 29 pornographic files to three women via WhatsApp. As per the case against him, 297 files containing sexual content with children or teenagers were found on Metzelder’s mobile phone. A lawyer for the former player said last week that he would “face” the charges in court.

The judge said Metzelder had shown “genuine remorse”, adding that his fame meant the trial itself was also a punishment. “It is to be expected that he treat this trial as a warning and not commit any further offences,” she said.

“He knows what he did,” Metzelder’s prosecutor Ulrich Sommer told RTL. “He also knows that it can be called a mistake and he knows that he will have to face his responsibilities.”

Allegations against him surfaced in September 2019, but he did not address them publicly. Metzelder worked as an expert for Sky Sports Germany until he was investigated in September 2019. 

Sommer said Metzelder is in therapy to help address certain issues, such as sexuality or relationships with women in certain situations. The lawyer said the former central defender was “shocked at himself because he had this type of double life”, but insisted that his client was “clearly not a pedophile”.

Metzelder was part of the opening group in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2008 finals and has made 47 appearances for Germany. He played for important clubs such as Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in a 15-year career. He retired from football in 2014 and, since 2006, Metzelder ran a foundation in his name to support socially disadvantaged children across Germany.

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