New allegations surfaced on Friday that bribes paid to FIFA executive committee members by German soccer officials helped secure their bid for the 2006 World cup.
German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported that a German bidding committee set up a secret fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6 million at that time) underwritten by former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
Money from the slush fund allegedly found its way into the pockets of four Asian representatives on FIFA’s 24-member executive committee ensuring Germany’s successful bid for the World Cup on July 6, 2000.
An Associated Press report claims that both Franz Beckenbauer, a former German soccer great and bidding committee leader, and Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the German football federation (DFB), were aware of the slush fund by 2005 at the latest.
According to Der Spiegel:
A year and a half prior to the World Cup, Louis-Dreyfus called in the loan, which by then had a value of €6.7 million. Officials at OK, of which Beckenbauer had become president and Niersbach vice president, began looking for a way in 2005 to pay back the illicit funds in an inconspicuous manner. Internal documents show that a cover was created with the help of global football organizing body FIFA to facilitate the payment. Using the cover, the Germans made a €6.7 million contribution for a gala FIFA Opening Ceremony that had been planned at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium but was later cancelled. The money had been paid into a FIFA bank account in Geneva. From there, FIFA allegedly promptly transferred the money to a Zurich account belonging to Louis-Dreyfus.
The magazine further reported that Louis-Dreyfus’ loan payment was reportedly kept secret and it did not show up in the bidding committee’s budget or on the balance sheet of the World Cup organizing committee.
When contacted by Der Spiegel, Beckenbauer and Niersbach declined to provide a response. On Thursday, the federation sent a press release acknowledging that the World Cup 2006 Organizing Committee made a payment in April 2005 of around €6.7 million to FIFA. Officials claim it had nothing to do with securing the World Cup.
Spiegel further reported FIFA covered up 6.7 million euros that it received claiming it was a contribution to an opening ceremony gala that was later canceled.
“The money had been paid into a FIFA bank account in Geneva. From there, FIFA allegedly promptly transferred the money to a Zurich account belonging to Louis-Dreyfus,” Spiegel reported. Louis-Dreyfus died in 2009.
Fox News reported that the (DFB) insists the money was not in exchange for votes, but is investigating whether the 6.7 million euros “may potentially not have been used for the intended purpose.”
Germany captured the 2006 World Cup by one vote 12 votes to 11, over South Africa. New Zealand’s Charles Dempsey, who also has since died, returned home early and did not place a vote, reported Fox.