BERLIN (Reuters) - Franz Beckenbauer, who headed Germany’s 2006 World Cup organizing committee, said on Monday a transfer of 6.7 million euros to world soccer’s governing body FIFA in 2005 was a mistake but rejected claims it was a return of a loan to buy votes in favor of the country’s World Cup bid.
In a brief statement sent to media, 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, again said the Germans never bought votes.
“In order to get a subsidy from FIFA (for the organization 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 organizing committee bear the responsibility of this mistake.”
But he said any claims of a votes-for-cash deal were not true.
“There were no votes bought in order to get the nod for the 2006 World Cup,” Beckenbauer, 70, said.
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.
The German Football Association (DFB) has rejected the claims as groundless but has said it was investigating a payment of the same amount from the organizing committee to FIFA in 2005.
DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach, who was vice president of the 2006 World Cup organizing 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 toward the Germans’ organizational 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 organizing 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 soccer 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 Nov. 4 but has yet to say whether he will go.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Martyn Herman