German football legend and chairman of Germany’s 2006 World Cup organising committee, Franz Beckenbauer, has admitted that a transfer of 6.7 million euros to world football’s governing body FIFA in 2005 was a mistake.

However, he rejected claims that the controversial fund was a return of a loan to buy votes in favour of the country’s World Cup bid.

In a brief press statement, the former World Cup-winning player and coach, who is a key figure in an affair involving an alleged slush fund used to bribe FIFA voting members back in 2000 to award the tournament to Germany, insists the Germans never bought votes. “In order to get a subsidy from FIFA (for the organisation of the 2006 World Cup) those involved went ahead with a proposal from the FIFA finance commission that in today’s eyes should have been rejected. I, as President of the then organising committee bear the responsibility of this mistake.”

The 70-year-old German noted that any claims of a votes-for-cash deal in relations to the 2006 world cup bid were not true. “There were no votes bought in order to get the nod for the 2006 World Cup,” Beckenbauer stressed.

Der Spiegel magazine had reported an alleged slush fund of 6.7 million euros was used to buy votes for Germany. The money had been provided by then Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the magazine said.

Although, the German Football Association (DFB) swiftly rejected the claims as groundless, it has said it was investigating a payment of the same amount from the organising committee to FIFA in 2005.

DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach, who was vice president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee, acknowledged last week there were unanswered questions surrounding that payment, saying the money was demanded by FIFA’s finance committee in order to pay out a contribution of 170 million euros towards the Germans’ organisational budget.

When asked why the Germans have to pay FIFA a small sum to unlock a payment for them that was much larger, Niersbach, a vice-president of the organising committee back in 2005, said he did not know.

Der Spiegel claims the 2005 payment to FIFA was repaying Louis-Dreyfus for his loan five years earlier through the football body. Niersbach’s predecessor Theo Zwanziger has also said there was an alleged slush fund.

Niersbach has been invited to appear before Germany’s parliamentary committee on sports on November 4 but has yet to say whether he will go.

By Olisemeka Obeche


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