Fifa said allegations that Germany used bribes to secure the 2006 World Cup are “serious” and will be reviewed as part of its ongoing investigation into corruption in soccer.
German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported on Friday that the bidding committee set up a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs that was contributed in a private capacity by former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
The money was used to secure four votes from Asian members of Fifa’s 24-member executive committee before Germany won the bid vote in 2000, the report said.
Fifa said these “are very serious allegations” that “will be reviewed as part of the independent internal investigation currently being conducted by Fifa under the direction of its legal director with the assistance of outside counsel”.
At the vote in July 2000, Germany saw off South Africa by 12 votes to 11 -- Charles Dempsey of New Zealand abstained -- to win the right to hold the 2006 World Cup, with South Africa going on to stage the 2010 edition.
Two of the four Asians refused to answer Spiegel’s questions, one is now deceased while the fourth, South Korean Chung Moon-joon, who eight days ago was suspended for six years by Fifa’s ethics committee for contravening rules while lobbying for his homeland’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup, deemed the issue not important enough to answer.
Spiegel further claimed that a year before the World Cup began in Germany, Louis-Dreyfus, who was once the major shareholder in French football giants Marseille, had wanted to recoup his loan.
The German Football Federation (DFB) therefore used a Fifa account in Geneva to transfer 6.7 million euros sum to Louis-Dreyfus, according to Spiegel.
The newspaper also claimed that the World Cup organising committee chairman Franz Beckenbauer, a German football legend, and current DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, who was then the secretary general of that organisation, were both aware of the payment.
The German Football Federation (DFB) insisted on Friday that a 6.7 million euro payment made by the 2006 World Cup organisers to Fifa had nothing to do with the awarding of the event to Germany.
The payment was unearthed by the DFB during an internal investigation into the awarding of the 2006 World Cup prompted by the wave of scandal engulfing Fifa.
The DFB explained that in the course of their probe to ensure nothing amiss had occurred during the bidding process “it had come across a 6.7 million euros payment made to Fifa in April 2005, money which could
have been used for something else other than its original intended target (Fifa’s cultural programme)”.
The DFB stressed: “The payment was not connected with the awarding (of the 2006 World Cup) made almost five years earlier.”
The DFB also said it is investigating the possibility of recuperating the 6.7 million euros.
“It is necessary to shine the light on these accusations. Football fans have the right to that,” German minister of justice Heiko Maas told Saturday’s edition of Bild.