ZURICH: The mysterious role of former FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi in the German 2006 World Cup cash scandal is questioned in the independent report commissioned by the DFB writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Linsi, a Swiss banker and businessman, was finance director of the world football federation from 1999 to 2002 when he succeeded sacked Michel Zen Ruffinen as general secretary.
He is recalled by many former FIFA loyalists as probably the most unpopular and disliked general secretary in the organisation’s history. Linsi was replaced in the summer of 2007 by Jerome Valcke.
In his time controlling FIFA’s finances Linsi was centrally involved in the unexplained cash exchanges concerning the German 2006 World Cup bid and organising committees, late businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus and ex-Asian confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam.
Questions have been raised about whether the payments to and fro were related to a possible slush fund in support of Germany’s successful hosting bid or to FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s re-election campaigns.
However this was only a matter of speculation, according to a spokesman for Freshfields which undertook an inquiry on behalf of the DFB.
The fallout from the scandal saw the departure of the DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach and two senior officials. A cloud of suspicion continues to surround former DFB and World Cup organising leaders Theo Zwanziger, Horst R Schmidt and Franz Beckenbauer.
Linsi, formerly a senior manager at Credit Suisse, was named more than 50 times in the report, according to the Swiss finance news-site InsideParadePlatz.ch.
In particular his involvement was noted when the DFB sought in 2005 to repay a SFr10m loan to the then Adidas owner Louis-Dreyfus.
Linsi was aware of the need to transfer the money but suggested, in a fax to Schmidt and Zwanziger to do so via a FIFA account with a Zurich branch of UBS. Linsi then transferred the money on to Louis-Dreyfus’s account with BNP Paribas.
However, while the German payment reference referred to a World Cup opening gala – which never took place – the ongoing payment was labelled simply on behalf of FIFA World Cup Germany 2006.
Freshfields investigators’ were unable to ascertain whatever Linsi may have known because the Swiss judicial authorities – running their own inquiry into World Cup bid corruption allegations – barred residents from communicating “with third parties”.
The Swiss justified this on the grounds that questions or published reports could compromise the progress of their own investigations.