German prosecutors consider whether to probe 2006 World Cup

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) The German football federation president denied again Monday that German bidders used a slush fund to buy votes to secure the 2006 World Cup, while acknowledging that it remains unexplained what the money was used for.

German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday that a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6 million at that time) was set up to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA executive committee.

''There were no slush funds,'' German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach said Monday. ''There was no vote-buying.''

''But the question must be asked why was this transfer made,'' Niersbach added.

Meanwhile, German prosecutors are examining whether there are grounds to open an investigation into the allegations.

Nadja Niesen, a spokeswoman for Frankfurt prosecutors, said fraud, breach of trust or corruption were possible offenses that might be investigated, news agency dpa reported Monday. Niesen couldn't say when the examination of whether there is a case will be concluded.

Bid committee leader Franz Beckenbauer says he never had money given to anyone to buy votes.

Niersbach, who was also a senior member of the German bid committee, said that Germany ran an honest bid.

''We conducted the bid with honest means, and ultimately decided (the contest) with honest means for us, for Germany, for German football on July 6, 2000 in Zurich,'' Niersbach said at an event at the German Football Museum in Dortmund.

A federation panel is investigating the case, as well as an ''internationally respected'' law firm, but Niersbach could not say how long the probe would last.

''We would all prefer that it would be concluded as quickly as possible,'' he said.

''But the main allegation ... the slush fund, we deny categorically. It's wrong,'' Niersbach said.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who is also responsible for sports, said he was counting on the DFB leadership to clear up what happened quickly.

''They have questions of their own regarding this sum, what it was used for,'' de Maiziere told N24 television. ''But I have no grounds based on facts to doubt what Mr. Niersbach, Mr. Beckenbauer and others are saying.''

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said he was expecting ''a comprehensive and swift explanation of the facts.''

Bach, who was on the supervisory board of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee, said in a statement the board had ''no indications at all of any irregularities of this kind'' at the time.

Germany's interior minister at the time, Otto Schily, said it was FIFA, the embattled world governing body of football, which should explain what happened to the money.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.