ZURICH: Wolfgang Niersbach, once considered a future UEFA president, believes he is about to be banned from all football for at least two years writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Weekend reports from Germany suggest Niersbach is preparing for imminent bad news from the ethics committee of world federation FIFA over his role in the murky business of 2006 World Cup finances.
The 65-year-old remains a well-paid member of both FIFA’s governing council and the executive committee of European federation UEFA despite having seen his reputation undermined by the 2006 scandal which led to his resignation as president of the DFB last autumn.
The ethics committee opened an investigation in March into the controversy as well as into the roles played by former 2006 bid then organising officials Niersbach, Franz Beckenbauer and Theo Zwanziger. Also under investigation are former DFB officials Helmut Sandrock, Horst R Schmidt and Stefan Hans.
The ethics action concerns mysterious payments in and out of the German federation’s accounts both before and after the award of the finals under circumstances which were controversial even at the time in July 2000.
Niersbach was communications director of the 2006 bid and organising committees. He later became general secretary and chief executive of the DFB before retiring on a lucrative pension which ‘freed’ him to take over the presidency from the Theo Zwanziger.
He has always involved wrongdoing and described the recommendation from the investigatory chamber as “incomprehensible.”
Niersbach may seek to continue in membership of the FIFA and UEFA governing bodies while undertaking appeals to the FIFA appeal committee and, if unsuccessful, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Niersbach case, concerning alleged breaches of four articles of the ethics code, is being considered by Alan Sullivan. The Australian is acting in his role as deputy chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee since senior judge Hans-Joachim Eckert is German.
An investigation into the scandal commissioned by the DFB from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer claimed that Niersbach had kept colleagues on the DFB board in the dark about the issue and that crucial documents had disappeared.
Hans was sacked by the DFB in the wake of the scandal and has sued for wrongful dismissal. An attempt at mediation by an employment tribunal ended in failure.
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