KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- In a remarkable new twist to the political warfare between UEFA and FIFA, Theo Zwanziger has raised a case concerning his own DFB presidential successor Wolfgang Niersbach with the world federation’s ethics committee.
The ‘simple’ context of the heat-seeking row between the two men is that Niersbach ousted Zwanziger as German federation president and is expected to take over his place on the FIFA executive committee in May.
Zwanziger, while on the FIFA exco, has become an increasingly solid supporter of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. This is stark contrast to Niersbach’s voluble attacks on Blatter’s decision to reverse a promise to step down as president of FIFA this year.
However the animosity between Zwanziger and Niersbach dates back to the latter’s step up from DFB general secretary in 2012 and the financial circumstances surrounding it.
Zwanziger had undertaken the DFB presidency between 2004 and 2012 as an honorary position, receiving only allowances and costs – though FIFA exco allowances have been reported as around $100,000 per annum.
However, when Zwanziger was forced out at the DFB by Niersbach the latter not only took over the honorary role at the head of Europe’s most powerful domestic FA but did so with the financial cushion of his pension on retiring from role of general secretary.
Zwanziger made no secret about his bitterness at this ‘arrangement.’ Now his anger has boiled over just as tensions are increasing between UEFA and Blatter in the run-up to the FIFA presidential election in May.
Blatter wants to secure a fifth term in office and is being challenged by a UEFA-backed triumvirate of Dutch FA president Michael Van Praag, Portugal ex-World Player of the Year Luis Figo and FIFA’s outgoing Asian vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan.
Zwanzige has chosen this particular moment to request an assessment from the FIFA ethics committee of Niersbach’s financial status at the DFB.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 69-year-old Zwanziger said: “I have submitted certain documents to the FIFA Ethics Committee and asked it to check the contents.”
The documents reportedly detail Niersbach’s DFB pension agreement. Zwanziger would have had access to all relevant documentation during his time as DFB president.
Whether he has the right to produce such confidential documents now he is out of office in Frankfurt is another issue on which the Ethics Committee may take a view.
Attack on UEFA
However Zwanziger has nothing to lose. He fell out long ago with the DFB which, last year, called on him to resign his position on the FIFA exco and described comments he had made about its inner workings “false and defamatory.”
Zwanziger added: “I just want to be clear about who has violated whose obligations and a neutral opinion of my conduct and that of the DFB.”
DFB media director Ralf Köttker said that for Zwanziger to make this particular issue public was “simply laughable.”
Köttker added: “Our executive pointed out back at the World Cup last summer that everything was entirely above board. The pension arrangements are absolutely flawless, approved by experts and entirely compatible with the requirements of a social, charitable association.”
In a second salvo during his latest outburst, Zwanziger also attacked the manner of UEFA’s criticism of Blatter.
Zwanziger: “It is not enough to simply say: ‘Blatter, no thanks!’ If UEFA wants to take a credible stance over allegations of corruption at FIFA then it must also admit its own responsibilities. After all, Europeans have eight seats at the FIFA top table.”
# # # # #