‘Biggest crisis in German football:’ FIFA to probe claims of German slush fund in 2006 World Cup bid
Der Spiegel’s shocking revelations claimed that in 2000 the late CEO of sports maker Adidas, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, contributed to Germany’s World Cup bid victory by donating some 10.3 million Swiss francs ($10.8 million) or 13 million German marks.
In the July 2000 vote, Germany won the bid from South Africa 12-11.
According to the current affairs magazine, the money was used as a slush fund to secure the votes of four Asian FIFA delegates who played a role in awarding the World Cup.
Der Spiegel also claimed that the sum did not appear in the budgets of the bid committee and organizing committee, adding that the bid committee Chief Franz Beckenbauer and the current Germany's football association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach knew about the fund.
Beckenbauer and Niersbach as well as two out of the three living Asian 2000 FIFA Executive Committee members gave no answer to Der Spiegel’s request for comment about the issue and a further Asian delegate called the weekly’s questions “not worthy of an answer.”
The DFB has rejected the allegations, saying that there were no slush funds with which to buy votes.
"The DFB resolutely rejects the completely groundless allegations of the magazine Der Spiegel that there were 'slush funds' in relation to the bid committee of the 2006 World Cup," the DFB said in a statement.
The football association however admitted knowing about the payment of a €6.7 million ($ 7.61 million) payment to FIFA in April 2005 that came from the World Cup organizational committee in Germany. But the DFB insists that it had nothing to do with the World Cup as Germany was selected to host the championship in 2000.
"This payment was in no way linked to the awarding of the 2006 World Cup, which had been decided five years previously," it said, also stressing that “there was equally no indication whatsoever that votes of delegates [of the FIFA Executive Committee] were bought.” Still, the Football Association admitted that this sum could have been misused.
The DFB announced that it launched an investigation, adding that it was initiated because of “the repeated media speculations.” It also claimed that its inquiry found no wrongdoing or “irregularities” in awarding global soccer tournament to Germany.
The DFB is now looking into different legal aspects of the case as well as into the possibility of demanding the return of the money.
At the same time, FIFA said that it had forwarded the case to its audit and compliance commission.
"These are very serious allegations," a FIFA official told Reuters. "They will be reviewed as part of the independent internal investigation currently being conducted by FIFA under the direction of its legal director with the assistance of outside counsel."
In the meantime, Der Spiegel has called the incident “the biggest crisis in German football” since the 1970s.
FIFA is also witnessing its biggest crisis in its history as 14 of its officials were charged by the US with bribery, money laundering and wire fraud involving $ 150 million in payments in May. Following the US investigations, Swiss authorities launched their own inquiry and opened a case against the FIFA president Sepp Blatter accusing him of criminal mismanagement.
As a result, he was later suspended from duty by FIFA’s ethics committee, alongside with Michel Platini, the head of the European Football Association UEFA and a potential Blatter’s successor in the 2016 FIFA presidential elections.