In-depth: FIFA’s ethics committee has opened a bribery probe into Germany’s successful 2006 World Cup bid, with the legendary Franz Beckenbauer under investigation.
Beckenbauer – a former World Cup winning captain and coach with Germany, who was also the president of the 2006 World Cup local organising committee – is the most high profile of six men named in connection with the probe.
The German FA (DFB) recently commissioned a report by legal firm Freshfields into allegations that there had been wrongdoing around the awarding of the competition to Germany.
The report found no evidence that votes were bought – but did state that it could not be ruled out as the information provided to the firm was incomplete.
Freshfields also flagged up payments linked to an account connected by Beckenbauer.
THE SIX MEN BEING INVESTIGATED
A statement from FIFA read: “After examining the Freshfields report commissioned by the German Football Association (DFB), the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has decided to open formal proceedings against the following individuals in the context of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ host selection and its associated funding:
• Wolfgang Niersbach, former president of the DFB, vice-president of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) and current member of the FIFA and UEFA Executive Committees
• Helmut Sandrock, former secretary general of the DFB and tournament director of the LOC
• Franz Beckenbauer, former vice-president of the DFB, president of the LOC and former member of the FIFA Executive Committee
• Theo Zwanziger, former president of the DFB, vice-president of the LOC and former member of the FIFA and UEFA Executive Committees
• Horst R. Schmidt, former secretary general of the DFB and vice-president of the LOC
• Stefan Hans, former chief financial officer of the DFB and chief financial officer of the LOC
“The chairman of the investigatory chamber, Dr Cornel Borbély, will lead the investigation proceedings as the chief of the investigation. He will examine all relevant evidence and hand over the case reports at the appropriate time, along with recommendations, to the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee.
“Under the FIFA Code of Ethics, pursuant to the presumption of innocence, the investigatory chamber shall examine all circumstances of the cases equally. In this sense, all parties are presumed innocent until a decision has been passed by the adjudicatory chamber.
“In the cases of Messrs Niersbach and Sandrock, the investigatory chamber will investigate a possible failure to report a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which could constitute a breach of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperating and reporting) and art. 19 (Conflicts of interest) of the FCE.
“In the cases of Mr Beckenbauer, Dr Zwanziger, Mr Schmidt and Mr Hans, the investigatory chamber will investigate possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ host selection and the associated funding, which could constitute a breach of arts 13, 15, 18 and 19 as well as art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
“The list of possible violations may be supplemented as additional information becomes available.”
BECKENBAUER ALREADY SANCTIONED BY FIFA
Just over a month ago FIFA sanctioned the main nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’, issuing a statement saying that he, “failed to cooperate with an Ethics Committee investigation…regarding the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bids despite repeated requests for his assistance.”
He was fined 7,000 Swiss francs and given a warning, but the fact that he did eventually cooperate saving him from a harsher punishment.
ALLEGATIONS AND DENIALS
The DFB’s investigation was triggered by a payment from the DFB to FIFA in 2005, which the DFB said last year was the return of a loan via FIFA from former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
Beckenbauer, who was the 2006 World Cup organising chief, said the controversial €6.7 million payment was made in order to release a payment of €170 million back to the organisers to help with preparations for the tournament.
Der Spiegel magazine alleged it was repayment of a loan used to buy votes in the 2000 election for the 2006 World Cup.
Beckenbauer told Bild newspaper’s Sunday edition there was no attempt to buy votes in 2000 to get the World Cup awarded to Germany, a claim echoed by the report by Freshfields law firm that found no proof of any vote buying.
“Definitely not for that. We did not buy votes. It (payment) was about a provision of security,” Beckenbauer claimed. “In order to get a financial contribution from FIFA. Otherwise there would not be a World Cup in Germany.”
Beckenbauer’s claim, however, has been rejected by both FIFA and the DFB with the report saying the €6.7 million payment to FIFA – equalling at the time about 10 million Swiss francs – was then sent straight on to the late Louis-Dreyfus.
WARNER DEAL ‘MAY LOOK A BIT STRANGE… BUT IT WAS MEANT WELL’
A contract between Beckenbauer and former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, now banned from football for life, surfaced late last year that was signed four days before the 2000 vote to give Germany the competition.
It offered a series of services, including friendly matches and coaching support to the head of CONCACAF, the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, which Warner led from 1990 to 2011.
“From today’s point of view some of it may look a bit strange and maybe one would not do it like that again,” Beckenbauer said at the time. “But it was meant well.”
‘ROBERT TOOK CARE OF EVERYTHING’
Last month’s 361-page report also looked at a separate payment in 2002 to Bin Hammam’s Kemco scaffolding company in Qatar.
The money left Beckenbauer’s shared account with his then advisor Robert Schwan and went via a Swiss law firm’s account to Kemco.
“Nothing,” he said when asked what he know about that transfer. “Robert took care of everything. From changing the light bulbs to the important contracts.” Schwan died in 2002.
“I only found out on Wednesday that money had gone to Qatar,” Beckenbauer told the newspaper.
“In hindsight I may have made mistakes. But afterwards you are always smarter,” Beckenbauer went on to say. “But the World Cup was not bought.”
BLATTER SCOFFS AT KAISER’S CLAIMS
Disgraced ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter refused to back up Beckenbauer’s accusation that 2006 German World Cup organisers had to pay world football’s governing body a cash amount in order to release a bigger payment back to them, calling them absurd.
“To pay money to get money? No. This does not exist at FIFA,” said Blatter.