German FA boss baffled by money trail

FRANKFURT • German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach yesterday said he could not answer some questions regarding the flow of €6.7 million (S$10.6 million) to world governing body Fifa before the 2006 World Cup.

He said he hoped an ongoing investigation would provide them.

Niersbach, in a hastily arranged news conference at the DFB headquarters, again rejected claims made by magazine Der Spiegel last week that an alleged slush fund had been used to buy votes in 2000 in favour of Germany's 2006 World Cup bid.

But he said he was unable to fully explain the matter of the money that was paid to Fifa in 2005 as part of what the DFB has said was for a cultural programme during the tournament.

"I don't want it to look like I am dodging questions... but today I cannot give you a complete explanation. There are open questions and that is why we asked the legal firm (last week) to investigate it," Niersbach told reporters.

The president of the world's biggest football association said he still had to get the full picture of how the amount was transferred to Fifa.

"There are question marks regarding this process that I have as well," he said.

Der Spiegel reported on Friday that Germany's bid committee for the 2006 World Cup had tapped into a secret fund to buy votes, alleging that it had been set up with money from late adidas chief executive Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

Der Spiegel reported that those aware of the alleged slush fund had included Franz Beckenbauer, head of the 2006 organising committee and former World Cup winning captain and coach, and Niersbach, who was a vice president of the committee.

Niersbach said the money was demanded by Fifa's finance committee in order to pay out a contribution of €170 million (S$268.8 million) towards the German's organisational budget with the German organising committee only just starting to generate revenues.

He added that the German organisers had not been given money directly by Louis-Dreyfus. Instead it was Fifa's finance commission that got the money from the businessman with the organisers paying it back to Fifa in 2005.

He also said that Beckenbauer had initially vouched for the amount with his own personal wealth but his manager convinced him not to do so and then proceeded to set up contact with Louis-Dreyfus who took over the payment to Fifa.

Beckenbauer on Wednesday emerged on a new list of individuals facing possible sanction from Fifa's ethics committee.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'German FA boss baffled by money trail'. Print Edition | Subscribe