FRANKFURT: Urs Linsi, a Swiss former general secretary of world football federation FIFA, is among the four men charged by German prosecutors over the mystery payment tangled up in the 2006 World Cup bidding process writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Linsi was brought in by then FIFA president in 2002 to lead a major cost-cutting programme after the financial chaos prompted by the bankruptcy of long-time marketing partner ISL. Jerome Valcke replaced him in 2007.

He has been charged along with former German federation officials Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R Schmidt. Zwanziger and Niersbach are former DFB presidents and members of the FIFA executive committee while Schmidt is a former DFB secretary and senior FIFA World Cup consultant.

They have all denied charges of tax evasion in a case which also places the DFB at risk of a major fine.

The former DFB officials are accused of having deliberately misled the tax authorities over 2006 World Cup revenues. The central issue turns around the repayment via FIFA of a loan of €6.7m to the former Adidas owner Robert Louis Dreyfus.

The DFB set down the payment as a contribution to a World Cup gala, which never took place.

Franz Beckenbauer, president of the World Cup bid and then organising committees, had borrowed the same amount in 2002 from Louis-Dreyfus. That money ended up in Qatar with former Asian confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam.

Last October the Frankfurt tax office fined the DFB €19.2m. The DFB has always insisted the payment was properly accounted.