Wednesday 17 January 2018

Franz Beckenbauer acknowledges 'mistake' in €6.7m payment to FIFA

Franz Beckenbauer with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter
Franz Beckenbauer with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter

Franz Beckenbauer has accepted responsibility for the German Football Association's "mistake" in making a payment of 6.7million euros to FIFA, but denied that the money was used to buy votes to secure the 2006 World Cup.

Germany's Spiegel magazine earlier this month unveiled details of the payment to the world governing body in 2005 which it claims was in return for votes to be awarded the right five years earlier to stage the tournament.

Beckenbauer was head of the bid committee, and later the tournament's organisation committee, and the finger has been pointed at Bayern Munich's honorary president.

The 70-year-old has avoided the spotlight in recent days, but broke his silence on Monday regarding the alleged slush fund.

"I, as the president of the organisation committee at the time, carry the responsibility for this mistake," Beckenbauer said on Monday evening in a statement published by the Bild newspaper.

"In order to obtain financial support from FIFA, a suggestion by FIFA's finance commission was followed which, in hindsight, should have been rejected.

"No votes were bought in order to win the right to stage the 2006 World Cup."

German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach, who is accused of knowing about the fund and the payments, also admitted he had made mistakes, saying it was "without a doubt an oversight on my part not to have informed my colleagues on the board early enough".

He added: "I've got to take responsibility for that."

The DFB has confirmed the payment to FIFA was made, but insisted its purpose was not to secure votes in the bidding process. It has launched an internal investigation.

Earlier on Monday, DFB vice-president Peter Freymuth said he does not see any reason why Niersbach should step down.

"There was and there is no call for him to resign," Freymuth told the Rheinische Post newspaper. "Nobody at the DFB is looking for a successor to him either.

"It certainly isn't a good time for the association, but we as a team are insisting on this being cleared up transparently and Wolfgang Niersbach, as president, is part of that.

"We want to and will continue with him. Clearly there are others who are not so interested in this being cleared up and are only intent on causing disturbances.

"Yes, some people on the board are disappointed, but there has never been a discussion among this group of potential successors (to Niersbach)."

Meanwhile, Freymuth has appealed to Beckenbauer and Gunter Netzer, who both opted out of attending the opening of a new football museum in Dortmund at the weekend, to collaborate with the investigation.

"In the interests of football, there has got to be a quick but also thorough investigation," Freymuth added.

"That also means that Beckenbauer and Netzer have got to contribute. It's all about faith in football."

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