FRANKFURT: United States investigators have asked their German counterparts for information of the mystery payment made to FIFA by the 2006 World Cup organisers writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Wolfgang Niersbach was forced to step down as president of the German DFB last autumn after confusion arose over €6m paid to the world football federation in the run-up to the finals.

Niersbach, who had been communications director of the bidding and then organising committee, had been unable to explain the payment. Organising president Franz Beckenbauer has sought to explain it away as a facility payment towards a mch larger from FIFA towards organisational costs.

However the news magazine Der Spiegel has suggested the money was repayment of an initial loan from the late Jean Lous-Dreyfus, then head of Adidas, and may have been used for iliicit payments during the bidding process.

Beckenbauer, Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger – who took over the sole presidency of the DFB in 2006 – have denied any inappropriate behaviour.

However weekend reports in the German media have claimed that the FBI, whose FIFAGate investigation has expanded into the depths of historic World Cup bidding operations, wants more details about the German connection.

The depth of the US concerns about FIFA and its senior directors was laid bare last May after the arrest of seven high-flying officials on the eve of the congress which re-elected Sepp Blatter as president. Blatter was banned for football for eight years, just before Christmas, for financial misconduct.

The southern German politician Rainer Koch, who is interim joint president of the DFB, has indicated that he expects – at the least – significant demands for back tax.

Already last May the US Department of Justice stated that a $10m payment, made through FIFA, had been an effective bribes by South Africa for support from the central and north American region in its bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

A concern has thus arisen about a possible similar pattern where the German monies were concerned.