Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into German football legend Franz Beckenbauer and three others regarding Germany’s bid for the 2006 World Cup.
As members of that cup’s organising committee, Beckenbauer and the alleged parties are suspected of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation.
Beckenbauer, who headed the German’s World Cup bid, has previously denied corruption.
Last October, he said he had made a “mistake” in the bidding process to host the competition in 2000 but denied votes had been bought.
Germany beat South Africa 12-11 in the World Cup vote, which took place in July 2000.
The BBC report that in March of this year, football’s world governing body FIFA began looking into six men for their part in Germany winning the rights to host the 2006 cup.
After launching their own investigations, linked to those of FIFA, Swiss prosecutors named four suspects on Thursday:
- Franz Beckenbauer: Former vice-president of the German Football Association (DFB), president of the 2006 World Cup local organising committee (LOC) and former member of the Fifa executive committee
- Wolfgang Niersbach: Former president of the DFB, vice-president of the LOC and current member of the Fifa and Uefa executive committees
- Theo Zwanziger: Former president of the DFB, vice-president of the LOC and former member of the Fifa and Uefa executive committees
- Horst Rudolf Schmidt: Former secretary-general of the DFB and vice-president of the LOC
Premises were searched in eight undisclosed locations today, Thursday, with the co-operation of the Austrian and German authorities, the prosecutors said.
Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was among the properties searched, according to the Associated Press agency.
Several suspects were also questioned, the prosecutors added.
The Swiss investigation focuses on the use of 7m euros, later reduced to 6.7m euros, earmarked for a gala event.
“It is suspected that the suspects knew that this sum was not being used to fund the gala event, but instead to repay a debt that was not owed by the DFB,” prosecutors said in a statement.
“In particular, it is suspected that Beckenbauer and his colleagues willfully misled their fellow members of the executive board of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup.
“This was presumably done by the use of false pretences or concealment of the truth, thus inducing the other committee members to act in a manner that caused DFB a financial loss.”
No further details were given. The investigation is ongoing.
David Gorman is a journalist from Monaghan who mainly writes about golf, football and GAA.
You can follow him on Twitter at – @DavidGorman20