Swiss probe Beck­en­bauer over Ger­man World Cup bid

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

SWISS au­thor­i­ties have opened crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against Ger­man foot­ball great Franz Beck­en­bauer and two for­mer pres­i­dents of Ger­many’s foot­ball fed­er­a­tion (DFB) in con­nec­tion with its suc­cess­ful bid for the 2006 World Cup.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice ( OAG) in Bern said the pro­ceed­ings re­lated to al­le­ga­tions of fraud, crim­i­nal mis­man­age­ment, money laun­der­ing and mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion.

Raids were car­ried out si­mul­ta­ne­ously in eight lo­ca­tions yes­ter­day with the co­op­er­a­tion of au­thor­i­ties in Ger­many and Aus­tria, the OAG said.

In all, four mem­bers of the 2006 tour­na­ment’s or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee were placed un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

They were Beck­en­bauer — who led West Ger­many to World Cup wins as both player and man­ager — for­mer DFB pres­i­dents Theo Zwanziger and Wolf­gang Niers­bach, and for­mer sec­re­tary gen­eral Horst Sch­midt.

Beck­en­bauer, who could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment yes­ter­day, has pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted to mak­ing mis­takes but has de­nied wrong­do­ing.

Widely re­garded as one of the game’s finest play­ers, he cap­tained the West Ger­many team that won the 1974 World Cup and was coach when they won again in 1990.

Now 70, he is also a for­mer mem­ber of world foot­ball body Fifa’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

Ear­lier this year, Ger­many’s DFB com­mis­sioned a re­port into al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties over the award­ing of the 2006 World Cup.

The re­port, pub­lished in March, said that, while there was no ev­i­dence of Ger­many pay­ing Fifa mem­bers in re­turn for votes, pay­ments were made to at least —

one for­mer Fifa of­fi­cial through a web of ac­counts in­volv­ing sev­eral other firms or in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing Beck­en­bauer.

Fifa has been in tur­moil af­ter a wave of in­dict­ments last year of foot­ball of­fi­cials on cor­rup­tion-re­lated charges, and been forced to in­ves­ti­gate how a num­ber of World Cups were awarded, no­tably the 2018 fi­nals to Rus­sia and the 2022 tour­na­ment to Qatar.

The OAG said its in­ves­ti­ga­tions fo­cused on the joint fi­nanc­ing of a gala, ini­tially at the cost of 7 mil­lion eu­ros ($7.80 mil­lion), later re­duced to 6.7 mil­lion eu­ros.

“It is sus­pected that the sus­pects knew that this sum was not be­ing used to fund the gala event, but in­stead to re­pay a debt that was not in­curred by the DFB,” said the state­ment.

It said the sus­pects may have “wil­fully mis­led” other mem­bers of the com­mit­tee’s ex­ec­u­tive board “in­duc­ing the other com­mit­tee mem­bers to act in a man­ner that caused DFB a fi­nan­cial loss.”

The World Cup af­fair, which shocked soc­cer-mad Ger­many, was trig­gered by the pay­ment from the DFB to Fifa, which the DFB said last year was the re­turn of a loan via the rul­ing body from the late Adi­das chief Robert Louis-Drey­fus.

The four named on Thurs­day were among six peo­ple placed un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Fifa’s own ethics com­mit­tee in March over the award.

In the cases of Beck­en­bauer, Zwanziger and Sch­midt, sus­pected ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in­cluded “pos­si­ble un­due pay­ments and con­tracts to gain an ad­van­tage in the 2006 Fifa World Cup host se­lec­tion and the as­so­ci­ated fund­ing”.

Fifa said this could have breached sev­eral ar­ti­cles of its code of ethics.

Niers­bach was given a one-year ban from the sport in July af­ter he “failed to re­port find­ings about pos­si­ble mis­con­duct” con­cern­ing the award­ing of the tour­na­ment. — Reuters

Franz Beck­en­bauer, pres­i­dent of Ger­many’s World Cup or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, plays with a golden soc­cer ball dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion next to the Bran­den­burg gate in Ber­lin April 18, 2006.


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