FRANKFURT: Theo Zwanziger has ripped into Wolfgang Niersbach, his old foe and successor as DFB president, in the latest bitter episode of the German World Cup payment scandal writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Last week news magazine Der Spiegel alleged that the 2006 World Cup organising committee had connived with FIFA to facilitate the reimbursement of a loan which might have been put towards buying votes in the bid battle with South Africa.
The accusation of bribery was roundly denied by Niersbach, who had been bid and tournament communications director, and by Franz Beckenbauer, who had been president of both operations.
However Niersbach conceded that a mystery €6.7m had been paid to FIFA for an unspecified ‘cultural programme.’ He had initiated an inquiry last June but, in a car cash of a press conference on Thursday, conceded that he had not notified the German DFB board of the issue.
Niersbach has succeeded Zwanziger not only at the head of the DFB but also on the executive committees of both world federation FIFA and Europe’s UEFA. Zwanziger, a fierce critic of the Qatar World Cup award, has been sniping at Niersbach ever since.
Bin Hammam connection
Zwanziger, who took over as sole DFB president after the 2006 World Cup finals, was quoted as saying: “It is clear there was a slush fund . . . and it also clear in my opinion that that the current DFB president did not learn about it only a matter of weeks ago as he claims, but since at least 2005.”
The 70-year-old lawyer added a further incendiary opinion about the use to which some of the money had been put.
He suggested it had been passed on to Mohamed bin Hammam, then president of the Asian confederation (and who has since been banned from football from life for unconnected financial misconduct).
Zwanziger said he had discussed the issue last week with Horst R Schmidt, the former DFB general secretary who had also been a vice-president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee. Schmidt, said Zwanziger, had linked the money to Bin Hammam.
Spiegel reported that neither Schmidt and Bin Hammam had responded to requests for comment.
Niersbach has been given a vote of confidence by the DFB board at its latest meeting.
Reinhard Rauball, the German league president and the DFB’s first vice-president, responded to a question about whether Niersbach’s position was under threat, by saying: “No.”
But he added: “For the league and for me personally it is crucial that everything is clarified in full.
“It is imperative for all of German football that the whole truth comes out, even if it should lead to painful discoveries.”