By Andrew Warshaw
December 22 – After keeping a low profile for several weeks in the wake of the potentially highly damaging probe into his alleged role in the 2006 World Cup bid scandal, Franz Beckenbauer (pictured with Wolfgang Niersbach), Germany’s most revered footballing figure, has re-iterated that his country did not buy the tournament.
Beckenbauer, who led Germany’s bid, is the subject of ongoing investigations in both Germany and Switzerland arising out of the scandal that has prompted reams of negative headlines about the country’s conduct.
Writing his final column for the Bild newspaper, one of the biggest circulation publications in Europe, Der Kaiser used the opportunity to again dismiss allegations of corruption in the award of the 2006 World Cup when Germany pipped South Africa by a single vote.
“Germany did not buy the World Cup, we did not want to bribe anyone and nor did we,” insisted Beckenbauer.
“I am always being asked why, publicly, I do not go into more detail. But the answer is simple: I cannot (say) what I want until the German and Swiss authorities, with whom I am of course cooperating, have ended their investigations.”
The Swiss Justice has opened investigations against not only Beckenbauer but also former presidents of the DFB Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach (who this week lost his appeal against a one-year ban from the game) as well as former secretary-general, Horst Schmidt, on suspicion of corruption, embezzlement and money laundering.
FIFA’s ethics committee, separately, is conducting an investigation into six individuals, including Beckenbauer, over potential vote buying and failure to report a breach of the FIFA ethics code.
The 2006 scandal was prompted by an alleged €6.7 million slush fund first reported by Der Spiegel but which Beckenbauer has vehemently denied any knowledge of. The alleged fund has never been proven but organisers of the 2006 World Cup have been under scrutiny ever since a 361-page report commissioned by the DFB attempted to explain a trail of suspect payments.
Beckenbauer, 71, underwent heart surgery in early September but says he is now fit and well.
“Today, thanks to the skill of the doctors, I am doing well again. I have changed my lifestyle a little and am practising a lot of sport again.”
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