Franz Beckenbauer criticizes German federation
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Franz Beckenbauer says a contract he signed with former high-ranking FIFA official Jack Warner ahead of the vote to decide the host of the 2006 World Cup was an aid package.
Speaking publicly for the first time on corruption allegations shaking the German football federation (DFB), Beckenbauer told the Sueddeutsche newspaper that other members of FIFA's executive committee had also asked for favors.
''Looking at it from today's point of view, many things look funny and you wouldn't do it like that today. But we simply meant well at the time,'' Beckenbauer told the paper. The Sueddeutsche released excerpts of the interview ahead of its publication in the weekend edition.
Warner was a long-time FIFA vice president and executive committee member, as well as head of Concacaf, who resigned in 2011 and who has now been banned from football for life. He is wanted on corruption charges in the United States.
According to Beckenbauer, Warner told the German bidders: ''If you are friends, do something for my confederation.''
Warner allegedly showed the Germans a training center co-financed by FIFA and England, which was also bidding for the 2006 World Cup. Germany won the bid by one vote over South Africa.
Beckenbauer said the deal with Warner was signed before the vote in 2000 and was meant as ''a development aid package with ticketing possibilities.''
DFB officials see the deal as a possible bribery attempt, even though there are no indications that it ever went ahead. The comments released by the newspaper do not say if it did.
Beckenbauer, a former Bayern Munich great who won the World Cup as captain and coach of Germany, was the lead man of the bid and later the chief of the organizing committee of the 2006 tournament.
''I simply always signed everything, I even signed carte blanche,'' Beckenbauer said.
He denied any vote buying, saying, ''we didn't have any money.''
The German weekly Der Spiegel and former DFB president Theo Zwanziger have alleged that German bidders used a slush fund to buy four Asian votes.
Speaking about a suspicious payment to FIFA also at the center of the affair, Beckenbauer said the deal was made with then FIFA vice president Mohamed bin Hammam, who has also been suspended from the game.
DFB officials have said that the federation paid the equivalent of ?6.7 million ($7.16 million) to FIFA in return for a much larger financial grant to the 2006 World Cup organizing committee. The money was paid on DFB's behalf by Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus and later repaid by the DFB.
But the circumstances and the purpose of the payment remain murky and have prompted a tax evasion investigation by German authorities. Wolfgang Niersbach, who resigned last month as DFB president, his predecessor Zwanziger and another high-ranking official are under investigation.
Niersbach had said the payment had been arranged personally by Beckenbauer and FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Blatter, who is now suspended, and FIFA have both denied any knowledge of it.
Beckenbauer said he ''assumed'' that the money went to FIFA's financial commission.
Beckenbauer said he offered to explain both cases to the DFB but never got a reply.
He said he sent a confidential letter to acting federation presidents Reinhard Rauball and Rainer Koch offering to answer all questions ''to the best of my knowledge and conscience,'' but that neither ever replied.
Rauball said on Friday that a reply was sent to Beckenbauer's management.
''I'll call Mr. Beckenbauer now to clear things up,'' Rauball said after a meeting of the DFB.
Rauball said he and Koch were not the ones investigating the affair but a law firm hired by the DFB. He said Beckenbauer was scheduled to speak to the panel next week, after already being interviewed last month.