KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Franz Beckenbauer is at risk of punitive action from FIFA’s ethics operation after refusing to co-operate with investigator Michael Garcia.
For almost the first time in his magisterial football career, the golden crown of Der Kaiser risks being tarnished by his snubbing an inquiry into the World Cup bid scandal.
A highly-placed source close to the world federation’s executive has told this writer that Beckenbauer should not consider himself above Garcia’s law.
Garcia, the New York-based attorney who has spent two years investigating corruption concerns around the 2018/2022 bid process, wanted Beckenbauer to answer questions about how he saw events during his spell as a member of the FIFA executive committee.
This was not an inquisition aimed specifically at the former World Cup-winning captain and then manager but at all the members of FIFA’s governing body at ballot time in December 2010.
Beckenbauer was a representative of European federation UEFA on the FIFA exco between 2007 and 2011. He is thought to have voted for Russia in the 2018 ballot and, initially, to have been the only supporter of Australia for 2022.
Beckenbauer said last week that since he was no longer a member of the FIFA exco he had seen no reason to put himself out by meeting Garcia and, in any case, he was no longer directed involved in the game.
The former German federation vice-president also admitted that Garcia had been irritated by two further refusals to co-operate.
Added mystery about Beckenbauer’s role was raised last weekend when The Sunday Times, which has raised corruption allegations over the Qatar award, reported that in 2009 Beckenbauer flew to Doha and met the Emir as a guest of Mohamed Bin Hammam, Qatar’s disgraced former FIFA exco member.
Bin Hammam also invited Beckenbauer five months after the vote along with senior executives from an oil and gas shipping firm to which he was a consultant.
Beckenbauer reportedy held two more meetings with Bin Hammam in May and June 2011. The shipping firm, ER Capital Holding, has said that nothing resulted from the talks.
Highly-placed sources close to the FIFA executive have indicated to this writer that Beckenbauer is mistaken if he believes he is above Garcia’s law. His role as honorary president of German champions Bayern Munich is a direct link with the game and hence his snub renders him vulnerable to disciplinary action.
Earlier in Garcia’s investigation he obtained the suspension of Najib Chirakal, an aide of Bin Hammam, for refusing to co-operate with the investigation.
Garcia concluded today his two-year investigation into the scandal-hit bid campaign and will report his findings and recommendations next month to Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. These could include sanctions against anyone whom Garcia deemed as having been obstructive.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said today, at an extraordinary congress of the Asian confederation, that he expected a conclusion to ‘Qatargate’ by September or October.
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