German football boss again denies World Cup corruption
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) A financial deal between Sepp Blatter and Franz Beckenbauer was revealed by the German football federation on Thursday as it sought to further defend a payment to FIFA from 2006 World Cup organizers.
The explanation from an uneasy federation chairman Wolfgang Niersbach at a hastily-called news conference was followed by the global governing body saying the payment ''in no way corresponds to FIFA's standard processes and regulations.''
The statements created further confusion over the 6.7 million-euro payment, which FIFA is investigating after German publication Der Spiegel claimed that the bidding team created a slush fund to secure votes.
Germany has been denying wrongdoing throughout the last week but the pressure has been growing on Niersbach and the federation (DFB).
''Everything was done with honest means for the 2006 World Cup bid,'' Niersbach said. ''There were no slush funds, no vote-buying.''
According to Niersbach, the 6.7 million-euro payment stemmed from a financing agreement with FIFA by tournament organizers to secure a grant of 250 million Swiss francs (about 230 million euros at current rates).
Niersbach could not clarify why a wealthy federation like DFB did not take out a bank credit if it needed funds for the work of the organizing committee.
The deal for the payment was made during a private meeting between FIFA President Blatter and World Cup organizing committee chief Beckenbauer in January 2002 - two years after Germany secured the hosting rights by one vote, Niersbach said. Niersbach explained that he only learned about the deal when he visited Beckenbauer at his Austrian residence on Tuesday.
The money paid back through FIFA in early 2005 from the World Cup organizing committee had been earmarked for an opening gala that had been canceled, Niersbach told reporters.
FIFA responding by saying ''in general the FIFA finance committee is not authorized to receive payments in any way, nor does it have its own bank account.''
Spiegel reported that a cover for a slush fund was created with the help of FIFA.
Former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009, provided the funding, according to Spiegel, and asked for the money - by then worth 6.7 million euros - back before the tournament began. Dreyfus died in 2009.
According to Niersbach on Thursday, Beckenbauer was ready to use his personal funds to secure the grant but was told by his advisers not to do so and the money was finally given to FIFA's financial committee by Louis-Dreyfus.
FIFA said it was conducting an internal investigation and that it would be asking DFB for cooperation.
''That financial support of FIFA World Cup Organizing Committees should be coupled to any kind of financial advance payment by the respective organizing committee or the relevant football association in no way corresponds to FIFA's standard processes and regulations,'' the global governing body said in a statement.
DFB is also investigating the case and has also asked an outside law firm to look into the affair as well.
Beckenbauer's management said Thursday he would testify in the DFB initiated probe and would not make public statements for the time being.
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.
Separately, Beckenbauer at risk of sanctions if found guilty of obstructing then-FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia's investigation into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.