MUNICH – Pressure on Franz Beckenbauer to explain payments and provide answers over a 2006 World Cup scandal grew on Tuesday, a day after the president of Germany’s FA (DFB) resigned despite insisting he had done nothing wrong.
Wolfgang Niersbach, who was a vice president of Germany’s World Cup organizers, said he was taking political responsibility for a controversial 6.7 million euro ($7.22 million) payment to FIFA allegedly used to bribe officials of world soccer’s governing body to vote for Germany’s World Cup hosting bid.
Following Monday’s surprise resignation of Niersbach the spotlight has now shifted to Beckenbauer, who was the head of the 2006 organising committee.
Rainer Koch, who along with fellow DFB vice president Reinhard Rauball has taken over Niersbach’s position on an interim basis, said “it is high time” Beckenbauer gets more involved in trying to resolve the issue.
“We have a request that he becomes more intensively involved in clearing up the processes,” said Koch in an interview with German channel ZDF. “The question how the World Cup was awarded will keep us busy.
“That is a big request, from the entire leadership of the DFB, (for him) to answer these questions. We clearly have more to clear up than just the 6.7 million euros. We have come to the conclusion that several processes around the awarding of the 2006 World Cup should be looked at closely.”
Niersbach, along with two other former World Cup organising committee colleagues, is under investigation for tax evasion related to the payment after police raided the DFB and his home last week.
Beckenbauer was not suspected of tax evasion and was not part of the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office probe, officials have said.
“But he needs to answer questions,” said German MP Oezcan Mutlu, who is a member of the parliamentary committee on sport. “It’s not just about the cash. It about many other questions … and he needs to provide answers.
“As it stands now, the suspicions keep growing and growing.”
Former World Cup winning captain and coach Beckenbauer — the country’s most iconic footballer — has admitted to facilitating the payment to FIFA which was allegedly a return on a loan in 2000 for German organisers from then Adidas CEO Robert-Louis Dreyfus.
He has since said that, in hindsight, this was a “mistake” but added that claims of a votes-for-cash deal were untrue.
At the heart of the investigation is the 6.7 million euros payment from the German FA to FIFA that Der Spiegel magazine claimed was a return on a loan from Louis-Dreyfus to help buy votes for Germany’s World Cup bid at the FIFA election in 2000.
The magazine’s report in October had claimed a slush fund had been set up with Louis-Dreyfus’ support to buy votes for Germany’s World Cup bid.
Beckenbauer, who answered the questions of an external law firm hired by the DFB to investigate the matter, has refused to comment again since his brief statement last month, opting to remain at his home in Austria. – Reuters