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October 24, 2015

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German federation chief ‘lying’ about fund

THE former president of the German football federation has accused his successor of lying, saying there was definitely a slush fund used in Germany’s successful 2006 World Cup bid.

Theo Zwanziger told Der Spiegel weekly that his successor Wolfgang Niersbach must have known about the secret money for years. “There was definitely a slush fund in the German World Cup bid,” Zwanziger told Spiegel.

“And it is clear as well that the present DFB president did not learn about it a couple of weeks ago, as he claims, but has known about it at least since 2005.”

He added that “the way I see it, Niersbach is lying.”

Der Spiegel reported a week ago that a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (US$6 million at the time) was set up to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA executive committee.

Niersbach has denied any vote-buying and said the money was used to a payment to FIFA two years after Germany won the bid in 2000.

However, suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s spokesman Klaus Stoehlker yesterday also disputed Niersbach’s assertions that the payment was arranged at a private meeting between Blatter and Franz Beckenbauer in January 2002.

But Stoehlker said “there was no private meeting with President Blatter” and Beckenbauer in 2002. According to Stoehlker, Blatter commented that “I don’t know anything about this case.”

Zwanziger was responsible for finances for the 2006 World Cup organizing committee. He and Niersbach have had several bitter feuds over the years.

On Thursday, Niersbach told a news conference that the payment to FIFA was in return for a financial grant of 250 million Swiss francs to the 2006 World Cup organizing committee. Niersbach said Blatter and Beckenbauer made the deal at a private meeting and that the money was paid to FIFA by French businessman chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

Louis-Dreyfus, the former adidas chief who died in 2009, demanded the repayment of the loan and was paid back by the Germans one year before the tournament.

But Zwanziger, in comments to Spiegel, claimed the money in fact went to Mohamed Bin Hammam, the now disgraced former member of FIFA’s executive committee from Qatar, who at the time was supporting Blatter’s re-election bid.

Zwanziger said he had learned about this through a telephone conversation this week with Horst R Schmidt, who was the vice president of the 2006 organizing committee. Zwanziger did not say why the money went to Bin Hammam.

Meanwhile, Frenchman Jerome Champagne is to make another bid for the FIFA presidency, saying that soccer’s governing body needs to be saved from collapse.

Champagne, who held four different posts at FIFA, including deputy secretary general, between 1999 and 2010, said the organization was “in danger” after being buffeted by a wave of scandals.

“We need to save FIFA and its role of governance and redistribution, which is in danger at a time when they are needed the most,” said Champagne in a letter to FIFA’s 209 member associations, which will choose the next president at a Congress on February 26.

FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May when the US Department of Justice indicted 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives on a series of corruption charges. In June, Blatter announced he would lay down his mandate, just four days after being re-elected for a fifth four-year mandate.

Earlier this month, Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini, who had been the favorite to replace him, were both suspended for 90 days pending an ethics investigation.

Champagne had wanted to run in the election earlier this year but failed to get the written backing from five national associations which is needed to register.

With the October 26 deadline for nominations looming, Jordanian Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein and former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid have announced their candidacies.


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