Fraud charges for 2006 Germany World Cup officials

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Wolfgang Niersbach (R), general secretary of the German soccer association (DFB) and designated successor of DFB president Theo Zwanziger (L) - archive picturesImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Two of the accused are former presidents of the German Football Association, Theo Zwanziger (L) and Wolfgang Niersbach (R)

Swiss prosecutors have charged three German ex-football officials who helped organise the 2006 Germany World Cup and one former Fifa official with fraud.

A payment of €6.7m (£6.1m) made in April 2005 was falsely declared as being for a World Cup opening ceremony.

All four men deny any wrongdoing. Proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer, who headed the tournament’s organising committee, are to be held separately.

The German football legend is currently suffering ill-health.

Tuesday’s charges were made against two former presidents of the German Football Association (DFB), Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, and the former secretary general of the DFB, Horst Rudolf Schmidt, as well as Urs Linsi, former general secretary of football’s international governing body, Fifa.

Mr Schmidt, Mr Zwanziger and Mr Linsi are accused of jointly committing fraud, while Mr Niersbach is accused of being complicit in fraud.

“The accused are alleged to have fraudulently misled the members of a supervisory body of the DFB organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany [OC WC 2006] in April 2005 about the true purpose of a payment of around €6.7m,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Tax authorities raided the DFB headquarters after it emerged that the €6.7m payment had been made to Fifa in 2005.

It “was first transferred from an account held by the DFB – respectively by the OC WC 2006 – to Fifa and on the same day transferred by Fifa as a simple ‘pass-though’ payment to a Swiss account held by Robert Louis-Dreyfus [the late head of German sportswear giant Adidas].”

The sum, prosecutors said, was repayment of a loan made in 2002 by Louis-Dreyfus to Franz Beckenbauer for use in various payments to a Qatari company.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

From top left clockwise: Wolfgang Niersbach, Theo Zwanziger, Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Urs Linsi

The case first made headlines in October 2015, when German news magazine Der Spiegel accused Germany of using a secret slush fund to buy Fifa votes in support of its bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

The money had allegedly been provided by Louis-Dreyfus at the request of Mr Beckenbauer, who led the committee seeking to secure Germany’s right to host the event.

He has previously admitted to making errors in relation to the bid, but has denied deliberate wrongdoing.

Mr Beckenbauer played his first World Cup for West Germany in 1966 in England and captained the team to victory as hosts at the 1974 tournament.

The former defender went on to manage French side Marseille and German giants Bayern Munich.