KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: An independent investigation into mystery money swirling around Germany’s winning bid to host the 2006 World Cup has come up with further doubts and unresolved questions.

The scandal, prompted by revelations of a €6.7m loan to the DFB’s bid committee from the late business Robert Louis-Dreyfus, has so far seen the departure of federation president Wolfgang Niersbach and two senior officials.

Franz Beckenbauer: payment to Bin Hammam

The report, commissioned by the DFB from Freshfields, has also cast further dark clouds over the fragmenting reputation of old playing legend Franz Beckenbauer who led both the bid operation and the subsequent organising committee.

Christian Duve of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer told a news conference that his 35-strong investigation team has found no evidence of vote-rigging but neither could this be entirely ruled out. They had examined 128,000 electronic documents and 650 folders of files.

Dempsey flight

The ballot was shrouded in controversy when New Zealander Charles Dempsey, the Oceania delegate on the executive committee of world federation FIFA, flew home before the last round of voting. Germany beat South Africa 10-9 but if Dempsey had voted for South Africa then president Sepp Blatter would have used his casting vote similarly.

Duve said: “We have no proof of vote buying,” before going on to explain that Freshfields had been unable to interview all the witnesses it wanted. These included Markus Kattner, German finance director of FIFA, who had been instructed not to co-operate “with third parties” by Swiss federal investigators running their own inquiry into possible World Cup bid vote-fixing.

The affair was triggered by the revelation last year of a suspect payment of €6.7m to the DFB and then another from the DFB to FIFA. The DFB had said that it was a return of a loan from former Adidas owner Louis-Dreyfus while the magazine Der Spiegel suggested the money had been used as a slush funds.

Duve said the payment had indeed been transferred to FIFA in 2005 but was not intended for an opening ceremony gala as had been indicted in accompanying documents. The concept of a gala had been proposed by the Germans but was later scrapped by FIFA. Beckenbauer has said the money was to guarantee an organisation support refund from the world federation.

However Duve was unequivocal about the truth. He said: “The money was immediately transferred on to an account of Louis-Dreyfus.”

He was also sure clear that the payment had been made in consultation and with the knowledge of both the DFB treasurer and future president Theo Zwanziger and its general secretary Horst R Schmidt.

According to earlier reports in Germany Beckenbauer had offered to make the repament to Louis-Dreyfus out of his own personal funds but was dissuaded by his personal manager and adviser, the late Robert Schwan.

Payment to Qatar bank

However Duve said that his team had identified a payment from Beckenbauer via a Swiss bank account in Sarnen to the Qatari scaffolding company Kemco owned by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the later-disgraced former Asian federation president and FIFA exco member.

The payments to Bin Hammam, according to Freshfields, were made for the “acquisition of TV and marketing rights 2006 Asian Games”.

Duve said: “We know these monies ended up in Qatar under the control of Bin Hammam but anything beyond that is speculation. We are merely presenting the facts as we know them.”

Freshfields, as Duve conceded, did not know all the facts because some documents were missing from the DFB headquarters including a folder known to have been labelled ‘FIFA 2006’.

Duve added: “You could connect the payment with the re-election of Blatter as FIFA president or for the 2006 vote but that would be pure speculation.”

Blatter was re-elected in 2007 after FIFA switched its election congress to the year after a World Cup.

FIFA said it would study Duve’s report carefully and incorporate the results into its own current investigation.

FIFA statement:

FIFA welcomes German Football Association report

FIFA welcomes the report by the German Football Association (DFB) on its investigation into Germany’s bid for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. FIFA will review the report carefully and factor the findings into its ongoing internal investigation of this matter.

FIFA shared information with the DFB to assist with its investigation and, in turn, received information from the DFB that is helpful to FIFA’s own investigation. However, many questions still remain to be answered. FIFA’s investigation has been hampered by the fact that key witnesses were not willing to answer questions or provide documents.

FIFA maintains its victim status in all investigations and continues to cooperate with the Swiss and German authorities, who are in the best position to obtain all of the information necessary to understanding the facts of this matter.

# # # #