The German FA (DFB) is set to answer corruption allegations on Friday as accusations the 2006 World Cup was “bought” threaten to give Fifa another headache.
The 2006 finals were lauded in Germany as a huge success with fans from all the world lapping up the well-organised tournament over four sun-soaked weeks.
But the ‘Sommermaerchen’ (‘summer fairytale’) – as the tournament has been sentimentally dubbed by Germans – threatens to finish with a far-from-happy ending for both the DFB and football’s governing body Fifa.
Last October, German magazine Spiegel opened a can of worms by claiming the DFB had used a slush fund to buy votes in order to host the tournament.
Spiegel claimed the DFB borrowed 10.3 million Swiss francs in 2002 from Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the former CEO of German sportswear giant Adidas, in order to buy the votes of four Asian members of Fifa’s 24-strong executive committee.
In 2000, Germany won the bid to stage the 2006 World Cup ahead of South Africa by 12 votes to 11, with one abstention.
Spiegel claim the DFB transferred €6.7 million, the equivalent exchange rate for the borrowed Swiss francs at the time, to a Fifa account.
DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach resigned over the scandal, then last month general secretary Helmut Sandrock, who helped organise the 2006 finals, suddenly quit.
German legend Franz Beckenbauer, who was chairman of the 2006 organising committee, has strenuously denied any allegations of corruption.
‘Der Kaiser’ claims the money was sent to Fifa to secure a grant and admits he made a “mistake”.
But the 70-year-old did little for his credibility by admitting he signed several documents at the time without reading them first.
The DFB ordered an internal investigation and the firm instructed to audit their 2006 bid – business law specialists Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – will publish their results on Friday.
The findings will first be presented to the 45 members of the DFB’s executive committee in Frankfurt before a press conference is held.
“We will first take note of the results and assess the situation. Then we will talk about the consequences in the short, medium and long term,” said the DFB’s joint interim president Rainer Koch.
The DFB is bracing itself for the full extent of the report’s revelations.
“Our position has always been to say: we want to resolve this,” said Reinhardt Rauball, who shares the job with Koch after stepping in when Niersbach resigned.
The scandal refuses to go away.
Authorities in Frankfurt are investigating Niersbach, his predecessor as DFB president Theo Zwanziger, and ex-general secretary Horst Schmidt on suspicion of tax evasion. All three have denied the charges.
The German FA’s offices in Frankfurt were raided last November.
Officers also swooped on the homes of Niersbach, Zwanziger and Horst Schmidt.
According to the Munich-based newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung , even the FBI is interested in the mysterious payment of 6.7 million euros.
In early February, the DFB started the legal process of trying to get the 6.7 million euros back from Beckenbauer and other figures in the organising committee.
Now football-mad Germany is waiting to discover whether or not their treasured 2006 tournament was bought.