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FIFA refutes German claim over 2006 World Cup payment

AFP , Thursday 22 Oct 2015
The logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA is seen on its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, May 27, 2015 (Reuters)

FIFA on Thursday directly challenged German football chief Wolfgang Niersbach's explanation over a controversial 6.7 million-euro payment linked to Germany's 2006 World Cup.

Allegations in the German media had suggested the money was used to buy Germany votes in the race to win the right to stage the 2006 World Cup.

Niersbach however claimed it was in fact an upfront payment transferred to FIFA in order to secure a 70 million euro subsidy from world football's governing body.

But Niersbach's version was immediately refuted by FIFA in a strongly-worded statement.

"That the financial support of FIFA World Cup Organising Committees should be coupled to any kind of financial advance payment by the respective organising committee or the relevant football association in no way corresponds to FIFA’s standard processes and regulations," the statement said.

"Furthermore, in general the FIFA Finance Committee is not authorised to receive payments in any way, nor does it have its own bank account."

FIFA has called for the German Football Federation (DFB) to cooperate with its investigation into the 2006 cash-for-votes allegations.

Earlier Niersbach was categoric that there had been nothing shady about the 2002 payment.

"There was no slush fund, there was no vote buying," he said.

He claimed that in January 2002, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter held talks with Franz Beckenbauer in which the German football legend was told the organisation could provide 250 million Swiss francs (then worth approximately 170 million euros) in subsidies but that Beckenbauer had to speak to the finance commission about it.

"Then the talks with the finance commission took place. To this day, I don't know who was at those talks," said Niersbach.

Eventually there was an agreement on the 250 million francs, "but in return 10 million francs (then worth 6.7 million euros) must be transferred to the (FIFA) finance commission," he added.

Beckenbauer was ready then to put up the 10 million with his private funds, but his manager had advised him to stay out of the issue, said Niersbach.

Subsequently, it was the then chief executive of Adidas, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who put up the 10 million francs.

Niersbach added that he "was not aware of this process in January 2002".

A few years later, said the German football chief, the sum reappeared on its accounts as it had to be repaid to Louis-Dreyfus.

Niersbach said he had been aware of the issue since June, and apologised for not having informed other board members earlier.

German news weekly Spiegel had claimed in a report last week that the German bidding committee had accepted a 10.3 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at that time) loan from Louis-Dreyfus.

Spiegel claims the loan was used to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA's 24-strong executive committee.

At the vote in July 2000 Germany saw off South Africa by 12 votes to 11 -- Charles Dempsey of New Zealand abstained -- to win the right to hold the 2006 World Cup, with South Africa going on to stage the 2010 edition.

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