Lausanne, Switzerland (Reuters) - Suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter refused to back up Franz Beckenbauer’s accusation that 2006 German World Cup organizers had to pay world soccer’s governing body a cash amount in order to release a bigger payment back to them, calling them absurd.
Beckenbauer, who was the 2006 World Cup organizing chief, has said a controversial 6.7 million euros payment to the soccer world governing body, currently under investigation by a German prosecutor, was made in order to release a payment of 170 million euros back to the organizers to help with preparations for the tournament.
The affair has rocked German football, with Beckenbauer, an emblematic sports figure in the country and a former World Cup winning player and coach at the heart of the scandal.
Blatter, in excerpts of an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine released on Friday, said the German World Cup organizers should follow the paper trail to get to the bottom of this affair.
“This is absurd,” said Blatter, adding FIFA’s 170 million euro contribution to the World Cup organizers was never tied to any conditions.
“To pay money to get money? No. This does not exist at FIFA,” said Blatter, who has been suspended as the federation is hit by a broader corruption scandal that has seen dozens of FIFA officials arrested.
Der Spiegel said in October the 6.7 million euro payment was a return on a loan via FIFA to ex-Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus that was allegedly used in a votes-for-cash deal with FIFA voting members during the 2000 bidding campaign for the 2006 tournament, which Germany won.
Beckenbauer denies the existence of any votes-for-cash deal.
The affair has led to the resignation of German FA (DFB) President Wolfgang Niersbach, who was a World Cup organizing Vice President at the time and is now being investigated for tax evasion in relation to this payment.
Niersbach, shortly before his resignation last month, confirmed in a press conference the existence of the payment but could not explain why it had been made.
“There have to be documents what exactly this money is and if there are no documents at the DFB then one should go to FIFA and properly clear this up,” Blatter said.
Beckenbauer, who has admitted to the payment but has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and is not formally under investigation, has twice discussed the issue with the legal firm in charge of the DFB’s own investigation.
A contract between Beckenbauer and former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, now banned from football for life, surfaced last month that was signed four days before the 2000 vote to give Germany the competition.
It offered a series of services, including friendly matches and coaching support to the head of CONCACAF, the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, which Warner led from 1990 to 2011.
“From today’s point of view some of it may look a bit strange and maybe one would not do it like that again,” Beckenbauer said. “But it was meant well.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ralph Boulton