KEIR RADNEDGE in SALVADOR: Franz Beckenbauer has changed his mind and will answer questions from FIFA ethics investigator after all.
Public reaction and pressure from sponsors and friends appear to have persuaded the greatest personality in German football history that his reputation and status were nose-diving after his haughty refusal to co-operate with Michael Garcia.
The American attorney has spent two years inquiring into the contest and circumstances of the highly controversial World Cup awards of 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Beckenbauer was a European federation delegate to the world governing body’s executive committee at the time of the vote in December 2010.
However he refused several requests to meet Garcia who then had him suspended from all football for 90 days. This meant Beckenbauer was banned from attending the World Cup where Germany open their campaign here in Salvador tomorrow.
Beckenbauer’s management announced today that he will supply written answers to the reported 130 questions.
A statement said: “It was never about whether he would answer the questions, but solely about how.
“It is our understanding that there is no suspicion of an alleged breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics, so we assume that the provisional sanction imposed is immediately lifted against him.”
No comment to that effect has been issued by Garcia’s office and FIFA refused to become involved. Spokesperson Delia Fischer said, as the daily media briefing in Rio de Janeiro, that “it is up to the deputy chairtman of the adjudicatory chamber, Alan Sullivan, to analyse the circumstances.”
Beckenbauer has denied any wrongdoing against a background of reported business visits to Qatar.
His credibility has been fully supported by past and presemt presidents of the German federation Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach.
Zwanziger, who effectively succeded Beckenbauer on the FIFA exco, said: “I have known Franz for a very long time and I cannot image that he would have done anything wrong.”
However, an editorial in the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticised Beckenbauer for his initial “arrogance” in refusing to subject to questioning over the World Cup award. It also noted that the issue could not easily be whitewashed over since Beckenbauer had benefited from lucrative promotional contracts with both Russia’s Gazprom and a major German energy company after the World Cup awards had been made.
Gazprom is also a major sponsor of the UEFA Champions League.