BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s 2006 World Cup bid committee did not bribe officials from the world soccer governing body FIFA to win the vote for the tournament, the German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach said on Saturday, rejecting allegations made by German magazine a day earlier.
Niersbach, who served on the committee, was responding to a report in Der Spiegel magazine on Friday alleging a slush fund had been set up for the committee to pay bribes to FIFA officials in order to help land the tournament for Germany in 2000.
Der Spiegel reported that among those aware of the slush fund had been the head of the committee, Franz Beckenbauer, as well as Niersbach, citing internal documents from the German Football Association (DFB).
“I can rule that out categorically,” Niersbach said in comments published on the DFB website. “I can assure that in relation to the bidding and awarding of the 2006 World Cup there were no ‘slush funds’ at the DFB, the bidding committee or the later organizing committee.”
Asked whether there was a votes-for-cash deal at the FIFA election in 2000, Niersbach said: “Certainly not. I can assure all football fans. Even Der Spiegel did not offer any proof.”
Beckenbauer has not responded to repeated requests for comment from Reuters. His agent could not be reached on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday another former member of the 2006 organizing committee, Fedor Radmann, also rejected the allegations.
“The bid committee never bribed anyone,” Radmann told Sky Sports News in Germany. “I am prepared to say that under oath. We bought no vote.”
The DFB said on Friday its own investigation had found no wrongdoing in the process of being awarded the 2006 World Cup, but said it was investigating a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.6 million) from the committee to FIFA for a cultural program during the 2006 World Cup and whether it was used as intended.
Der Spiegel claimed this payment was a return of a loan paid to the bid committee by the late Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus to help it set up the alleged slush fund, a claim also rejected by Niersbach.
FIFA was plunged into the biggest crisis of its 111-year history in May, when 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted in the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150 million in payments.
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Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky