World Cup Scandal Germany Appears to Have Bought Right to Host 2006 Tournament

Information obtained by SPIEGEL suggests the German bidding committee created a slush fund in its effort to land the rights to host the 2006 World Cup. Senior officials, including football hero Franz Beckenbauer, are believed to have known about fund.

Wolfgang Niersbach and Franz Beckenbauer led Germany's effort to land the 2006 World Cup.

Wolfgang Niersbach and Franz Beckenbauer led Germany's effort to land the 2006 World Cup.

In what could turn out to be the greatest crisis in German football since the Bundesliga bribery scandal of the 1970s, SPIEGEL has learned that the decision to award the 2006 World Cup to Germany was likely bought in the form of bribes. The German bidding committee set up a slush fund that was filled secretly by then-Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus to the tune of 10.3 million Swiss francs, which at the time was worth 13 million deutsche marks.

It appears that both Franz Beckenbauer, the German football hero who headed the bidding committee, and Wolfgang Niersbach, the current head of the German Football Federation (DFB), and other high-ranking football officials were aware of the fund by 2005 at the latest.

Acting in a private capacity, Louis-Dreyfus -- who was, at the time, chairman of Adidas, the sporting apparel and supplies company that equips the German national team -- lent the money to the German bidding committee prior to the decision to award the World Cup to Germany on July 6, 2000. The loan never appeared in the bidding committee's budget or later, once the tournament had been awarded to Germany, in that of the Organizing Committee (OK).

A year and a half prior to the World Cup, Louis-Dreyfus called in the loan, which by then had a value of €6.7 million. Officials at OK, of which Beckenbauer had become president and Niersbach vice president, began looking for a way in 2005 to pay back the illicit funds in an inconspicuous manner.

Internal documents show that a cover was created with the help of global football organizing body FIFA to facilitate the payment. Using the cover, the Germans made a €6.7 million contribution for a gala FIFA Opening Ceremony that had been planned at Berlin's Olympic Stadium but was later cancelled. The money had been paid into a FIFA bank account in Geneva. From there, FIFA allegedly promptly transferred the money to a Zurich account belonging to Louis-Dreyfus.

It appears that the loan was used to secure the four votes belonging to Asian representatives on the 24-person FIFA Executive Committee. The four Asians joined European representatives on the executive committee in casting their ballots for the tournament to be awarded to Germany in the July 2000 vote. After Charles Dempsey of New Zeeland unexpectedly abstained from casting his vote, Germany prevailed and landed the right to host the World Cup in a 12:11 vote.

Beckenbauer and Niersbach did not provide a response when contacted by SPIEGEL. On Thursday, DFB said that, "for reasons of timing," it could not provide a statement within 24 hours. But then, on Friday morning, it sent a press release in which officials admitted that the World Cup 2006 Organizing Committee made a payment in April 2005 of around €6.7 million to FIFA. DFB officials stated it is possible that the payment was not used for the stated purpose (the FIFA cultural program). But officials claim the payment had no connection to the awarding of the World Cup.

Of the three Asian representatives who voted for Germany in the Executive Committee in 2000 who are still living, two did not answer requests for comment from SPIEGEL. A third, Chung Song Joon of South Korea, said only that the questions were unworthy of a response. Former Adidas head Louis-Dreyfus passed away in 2009.

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broremann 10/16/2015
1. Blatter
They are trying to push all blame on Blatter when in fact everyone involved both on sport and state level are guilty
Inglenda2 10/16/2015
2. Not just politics stink from the top.
Does anyone really believe there is no bribery and drug taking in German football? Apart from the groups of male immigrants, who are said to have been lending children out to others, in order to multiply the access to child-allowances, or the known doping in cycle racing, soccer football is possibly one of the most successful forms of organised crime in Europe.
fv1 10/17/2015
3. Chung
Surely you mean Chung Mong Joon in the last paragraph. Chung is known for his 'generosity' and 'flexibility' when it comes to making 'footballing' decisions and getting things done. It's hard to think of a more odious person in football.
pmoseley 10/17/2015
4. Corrupt Germany
Now that corruption in politics (Christian Wulff), industry (Volkswagen) and now sport have been slowly unearthed in Germany, can we please stop this nonsense about the success of Germans being due to their greater ability and honesty?
afrikaneer 10/23/2015
5. The Best Investment Germany Ever Made!!
By Afrikaneer If the bribes allegations against Germany bidding committee turned out to be true, the 13 million Deutsche Marks paid to host the 2006 World Cup was the best investment in public relations that Germany ever made- more than 750 million fans watched the finals in 2014- what sport can even come close to this level of attention?- Rather than German Engineering, it was soccer the reason the world fell in love with "everything German". With four world cups in its belt, Germans have something to boast. The precise and physical toughness of the World Cup in 2014 was a different game from the magic of midfielder Franz Beckembauer, or Gerd Mueller or Uwe Seeler or Wolfang Overath who shone in their own time and had remained in the limelight longer than anyone else. When everything is said and done, Germans must continue to invest in the game; somehow economic trade and soccer are linked in strange ways.
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