Pres­sure grows on Beck­en­bauer in 2006 World Cup scan­dal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BER­LIN: Franz Beck­en­bauer is un­der grow­ing pres­sure to ex­plain his part in Ger­many’s 2006 World Cup scan­dal amidst re­ports of a doc­u­ment point­ing the fin­ger at the leg­endary player and coach. Ger­man foot­ball has lurched into a cri­sis over mag­a­zine Spiegel’s re­port last month al­leg­ing that the votes of four mem­bers of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee were bought in 2000, when Ger­many nar­rowly won the vote to host the 2006 fi­nals.

At the cen­tre of the scan­dal is a 6.7 mil­lioneuro ($7.2m) pay­ment, which is al­leged to have been used to pur­chase the sup­port of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

The scan­dal took a dra­matic twist last week when po­lice car­ried out raids at the Frankfurt head­quar­ters of the Ger­man Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (DFB) and led to Wolf­gang Niers­bach re­sign­ing as DFB pres­i­dent on Mon­day. State prose­cu­tors have re­vealed three men-in­clud­ing Niers­bach, ex-DFB pres­i­dent Theo Zwanziger and ex-gen­eral sec­re­tary Horst Sch­midt-are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for se­ri­ous tax fraud sur­round­ing the FIFA pay­ment. De­spite his piv­otal po­si­tion in the 2006 World Cup-first in lead­ing the suc­cess­ful bid and later as chair­man of the tour­na­ment’s or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee — Beck­en­bauer, 70, has stayed tight-lipped in the last fort­night, even as Niers­bach took “po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity” in re­sign­ing as DFB boss. But now Ger­man daily Bild claims to have seen a draft agree­ment, signed in part by Beck­en­bauer, which it says was aimed at “buy­ing votes for the Ger­man bid”.

Mu­nich-based Sued­deutsche Zeitung also quoted sources hav­ing seen the same doc­u­ment, re­port­edly signed in July 2000, just four days be­fore Ger­many beat South Africa by 12 votes to 11 for the right to host the 2006 World Cup fi­nals. Beck­en­bauer is al­ready be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by FIFA’s ethics com­mit­tee, which is look­ing into the con­tro­ver­sial award­ing of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup fi­nals to Rus­sia and Qatar re­spec­tively.

But ‘the Kaiser’ is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to shed some light on the 2006 World Cup scan­dal in Ger­many. “I ex­pect those who can con­trib­ute to the clean­ing up, to do so,” said Ger­many’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere on Tues­day.

‘Shock and dis­may’

The Kitzbue­hel-based agency rep­re­sent­ing Beck­en­bauer re­fused to com­ment yes­ter­day to SID, an AFP sub­sidiary, but last month the Ger­man leg­end ad­mit­ted mak­ing a “mis­take” in the bid­ding process.

“In order to ob­tain a FIFA grant, we ac­cepted a propo­si­tion com­ing from FIFA’s finance com­mis­sion that the im­pli­cated par­ties should, in ret­ro­spect, have re­fused,” said the ‘Kaiser’, who cap­tained the West Ger­many team that won the 1974 World Cup and then coached the side that won the tro­phy in 1990. “As pres­i­dent of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee at that time, I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for this mis­take.”

Niers­bach has said the 6.7 mil­lion-euro pay­ment was to ob­tain a FIFA grant to fund the 2006 World Cup fi­nals and in­sisted “votes were not bought and there was no slush fund”. Vi­cepres­i­dents Rein­hard Rauball and Rainer Koch will now take over as in­terim co-chiefs of the DFB.

Ex-Ger­many striker Oliver Bier­hoff, 47, has ruled him­self out of the run­ning to re­place Niers­bach as head of the Ger­man FA, but said news of the res­ig­na­tion had stunned the team who are pre­par­ing for Fri­day’s friendly against France in Paris.

“It’s not a sub­ject for me, I am help­ing to pre­pare the Ger­many team for the 2016 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship and have an academy project, which I am en­thu­si­as­tic about,” said Bier­hoff on Tues­day in Mu­nich. “It’s been an in­ten­sive three weeks for ev­ery­one at the DFB. “Even if you had counted on the fact that any­thing can hap­pen, we’re still shocked and af­fected by news of (Niers­bach’s) res­ig­na­tion.

“There is re­spect for him tak­ing po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity, but also dis­may, as it’s no se­cret that Wolf­gang Niers­bach had a par­tic­u­larly close re­la­tion­ship with the squad.” —AFP

ZURICH: A photo taken on July 6, 2000, shows Ger­man bid­ding com­mit­tee leader Franz Beck­en­bauer (C) pos­ing with FIFA pres­i­dent Joseph S Blat­ter (L) and Ger­man del­e­ga­tion mem­ber Fe­dor Rad­mann af­ter Ger­many was des­ig­nated to host the 2006 FIFA soc­cer World Cup by the vote of the FIFA ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in Zurich. Franz Beck­en­bauer is un­der grow­ing pres­sure to ex­plain his part in Ger­many’s 2006 World Cup scan­dal amidst re­ports of a doc­u­ment point­ing the fin­ger at the leg­endary player and coach. —AFP

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