FRANKFURT: German prosecutors and tax authorities have raided offices of the German DFB as well as private homes of current and former officials in a tax evasion investigation.
The Frankfurt prosecutors’ office said six unnamed former and current DFB officials were suspected of having intentionally falsely declared income from stadia advertising at national team home games in 2014 and 2015 as income from asset management That meant a failure to pay €4.7m in unpaid tax.
The DFB does not pay taxes on any income from asset management but is obliged to do so on earnings from any commercial activities.
Its president Fritz Keller, who took over in 2019, said the DFB would “fully support” the ongoing investigation.
Keller said: “I am in favour of throwing light on this so that football can have a clean future. I have stood for openness and transparency so state support to an investigation can only be welcomed.”
Some 200 officials were deployed in the searches that took place across several locations in five federal states.
A prosecutors’ statement said: “Based on the investigation until now there is the suspicion that those accused knew of the tax incorrectness but consciously chose it to give DFB a major tax advantage.”
The statement did not name the six people nor did it give details of their positions within the organisation but said the DFB had signed a deal in 2013 with a Swiss company for the marketing of its pitchside banners.
The prosecutors’ office said despite the agreement the DFB still had a say in the choice of companies buying space in order to protect its own main sponsors.
It added: “In terms of taxes this has the consequence that the revenues … could not be listed as tax-free asset management but fell into the category of taxed commercial operation and as such it should have been taxed.”
This is the latest in a series of legal cases that have tarnished the reputation and image of the world’s largest national football federation.
Suspected misuse of funds in relation to the 2006 World Cup in Germany led to a Swiss criminal investigation into former DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach and other officials. The case collapsed over a time limitation issue this past spring.
Reinhard Grindel, who succeeded Niersbach as president between 2016 and 2019 and was DFB treasurer between 2013-15, resigned in 2019 over undeclared financial income.