KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Two past presidents of the German DFB and two other senior former football officials will not face trial, after all, for tax evasion over the 2006 World Cup cash scandal.
A district court in Frankfurt decided not to proceed with charges laid in June against former DFB chiefs Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, both former members of the FIFA and UEFA executive committees.
Proceedings were also ended against former DFB general secretary Horst R Schmidt and against Urs Linsi, a former general secretary of world governing body FIFA. All four had always denied wrongdoing.
The court said it had “not seen enough suspicion of wrongdoing” to warrant a trial though the prosecutor’s office has one week to review the decision and possibly appeal.
Frankfurt prosecutors had charged the quartet with arranging the submission of incorrect tax returns to allow the DFB to avoid paying around €13.7m in tax.
The returns included a €6.7m payment from the DFB to FIFA for a World Cup 2006 cultural event, although the funds were in fact used for another purpose and should not have been offset against tax.
The cash trail began with a loan from the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, then the owner of Adidas, when Germany was bidding for host rights to the 2006 World Cup. After being awarded the finals by FIFA the organising committee arranged a similar payment, via FIFA, to the then Asian confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam.
Allegations that the money was used as a slush fund to buy votes for the Germany bid have never been substantiated.
Niersbach, media director of the 2006 World Cup then ceo of the DFB before succeeding Zwanziger as president, was banned from football for a year for his muddled response when the payment came to light in 2015.
The Swiss judicial authorities also launched an inquiry of their own which focused on not only the four named above but also German superstar Franz Beckenbauer who had headed both the 2006 bid and organising committees.
Current DFB president Reinhard Grindel expressed his relief at the Frankfurt court decision. He said, in a statement: “We have see our legal opinion confirmed by the court . . . that the case of the €6.7m was indeed a business-related expense. We now hope that we also achieve legal clarity in the taxation process.”
Last year, the tax office ordered the DFB to pay €19.2m in back taxes related to the payment.