Saturday 22 October 2016

Fifa corruption: Germany accused of ‘buying 2006 World Cup with former Adidas CEO’s money’

Tom Peck

Published 16/10/2015 | 19:53

The bidding committee of Germany’s 2006 World Cup bought the votes of Asian Fifa executive committee members with a Sfr10.3m (£5m) fund made available by the ex-CEO of Adidas, according to a German newspaper.

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Robert Louis-Dreyfus, a French businessman who ran Adidas in the late 1990s and early 2000s, may have borrowed the money and made it available to the bidding committee, of which German football legend Franz Beckenbauer was the head, it was alleged.

Der Spiegel’s report claims the cash appears to have been used to pay off the four Asian voters on the executive committee, and was eventually paid back to Louis-Dreyfus via Fifa’s own Swiss bank accounts. Fifa said it would investigate the allegations.

The vote for the 2006 tournament took place in July 2000, with Germany eventually winning 12:11 in the final round. The report claims the money was paid back to Louis-Dreyfus four and a half years later in circuitous fashion.

Germany’s World Cup organising committee made a contribution equal to the cost for a gala opening ceremony at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. The event was later cancelled but, Der Spiegel claims, the money was nevertheless paid into a Fifa bank account in Geneva. From there it was moved to  another account that belonged to Louis-Dreyfus.

Germany’s Fussball Bund (DFB), of which the leading Sepp Blatter critic and Fifa executive committee member Wolfgang Niersbach is president, has said it is investigating the matter. It says if it finds evidence of its money being used improperly, it will seek to have it returned.

“The DFB has not found even the slightest indications of irregularities during our investigation,” it said in a statement. “At the same time, there have been no indications at all of votes being bought from delegates as part of the bidding process. The payment [of €6.7m to Fifa in 2005] was in no way connected with obtaining the [World Cup] five years earlier.

“These suggestions led to the DFB presidency ordering an internal investigation this summer with the scope of finding an explanation.”

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini

Beckenbauer has been suspended previously by Fifa for refusing to co-operate with its investigation into corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. The former World cup-winning captain was a member of the executive committee when the votes for those tournaments was made in 2010. He has not commented. Louis-Dreyfus, formerly a chairman of Marseille football club, died in 2009.

Der Spiegel said two of the four Asian committee members did not answer requests for comments. A third, South Korean Dr Chung Mong-joon, said the allegations were “not worthy of a response”. Last week, Dr Chung, a billionaire businessman and scion of the Hyundai car dynasty – one of Fifa’s leading sponsors – was banned from football for six years and fined Sfr100,00, charges he said were “politically motivated” and aimed at preventing him from running for the Fifa presidency. The fourth member, Abdullah al-Dabal, died in 2007.

(© Independent News Service)

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