Beckenbauer cancels Swiss trip amid investigation
BERLIN — Franz Beckenbauer yesterday cancelled a public appointment in Zurich, amid the on-going investigation by Swiss prosecutors into corruption allegations over the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany.
The German football legend, who owns a South African winery, cancelled an appointment to attend a public wine tasting in a Zurich hotel to present his own brand of “The Kaiser’s Wines”.
Beckenbauer (70), is being investigated, along with three other members of the 2006 World Cup organising committee — Hans-Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.
The court in Bern on Thursday announced that prosecutors have been investigating the four Germans since November last year, the month after German magazine Der Spiegel first broke the cash-for-votes scandal.
The quartet are being investigated over allegations of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation.
Searches were carried out at eight locations on Thursday and German daily Bild reported that officials spent two hours searching Beckenbauer’s Salzburg home.
“Franz Beckenbauer supported the investigation by the Swiss authorities, since he had prior knowledge of it (the search) and will continue to co-operate with all the authorities involved,” Beckenbauer’s lawyer told Bild.
According to the paper, for whom Beckenbauer writes a regular column, the home of Urs Linsi, the former general secretary of world football’s governing body Fifa, was also searched.
Beckenbauer captained Germany to the 1974 World Cup and coached the side that won the trophy in Italy in 1990.
The cash-for-votes scandal has hung over German football since October 2015 when German magazine Der Spiegel claimed that a secret fund of 10 million Swiss francs was used to buy the hosting rights of the 2006 World Cup.
The money allegedly came from the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, ex-boss of Adidas, at Beckenbauer’s request, and was handed over in 2000, just before Germany were awarded the 2006 finals by a narrow vote.
In March, Fifa’s Ethics Committee opened formal proceedings, which are still ongoing, against Beckenbauer regarding the awarding of the 2006 finals.
In May, an independent inquiry commissioned by the German Football Association (DFB) said it could not rule out that Germany bought votes to secure the 2006 World Cup.
In July, Fifa’s ethics committee banned Niersbach, the ex-president of the DFB, for one year over misconduct surrounding the 2006 bid. — AFP