FRANKFURT: German football federation president Wolfgang Niersbach was facing delegates from regional and state associations today promising to provide answers in the 2006 World Cup slush fund controversy writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Niersbach, an executive committee member of both world and European governing bodies FIFA and UEFA, has come under heavy pressure over the mysterious €6.7m loan and repayment.
Heading into meetings with the DFB council and then regional leaders Niersbach said: “I am very confident that I can answer all the questions which colleagues, the heads of the regional associations and the public all expect.”
A new twist to the affair was the discovery of handwritten notes on a draft letter dating back to 2004. If the notes turn out to have been made by Niersbach then it would show he knew about the issue much earlier than he has admitted in preparations for the 2006 World Cup.
Also weighing on the DFB is an investigation by the German tax authorities which, last week, raided the DFB offices as well as the homes of Niersbach, presidential predecessor Theo Zwanziger and former former DFB general secretary Horst R Schmidt.
Leading politicians from the governing CDU also stepped up the pressure on Niersbach over the weekend.
Volker Bouffier, the first minister of Hesse, said: “I want the DFB to bring light into the darkness as soon as possible because this is a concern for many people. We need clarity as quickly as possible.”
MP Wolfgang Bosbach called on Franz Beckenbauer, president of the 2006 bid and then organising committees, to speak openly about the issue and what he knew.
At the heart of the issue is the sum of €6.7m which was paid by the German World Cup organising committee to FIFA, apparently declared internally as a subsidy for an opening gala which never took place.
In fact it appears the money was forwarded by FIFA, at the Germans’ request, to replay a private loan from the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the former Adidas owner and ceo.
Niersbach has claimed that FIFA had told Beckenbauer the payment was necessary to generate a hosting costs grant of €170m in return. This has been denied by FIFA.
Zwanziger told the news magazine Spiegel that Günter Netzer, then an executive with a Swiss marketing agency CWL, had told him the money was used to influence four Asian votes in the bidding process.
Netzer has denied the comment and threatened to sue Zwanziger.