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Niersbach explains FIFA payment during World Cup bid

wolfgang niersbach - cropped DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach (source: Getty)

A payment made to FIFA during the World Cup 2006 bidding process was to secure “additional organisation funds”, the German Football Association (DFB) has said.

A report in Der Spiegel last week alleged that a slush fund – provided by former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus – totalling close to $6million had been established by Germany’s World Cup bidding committee, intended to secure votes in their favour for the tournament.

DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, it was claimed, was aware of the fund at the time of the bidding process, along with former West Germany captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer, who led the bid committee.

But Niersbach, speaking on Thursday, has again denied any wrongdoing on the part of the DFB and claims the money paid to the FIFA finance committee was simply to bolster their funding for the tournament, rather than to win votes.

Beckenbauer offered to make the payment, totalling 10 million Swiss Francs, from his own personal fortune in a private meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter as he expected the tournament bid to be on “sound economic footing”, Niersbach stated.

Louis-Dreyfus eventually made the payment himself and was repaid by the DFB via FIFA, according to Niersbach, who insists he was unaware of the details until earlier this year.

“The issue is very complex and I would like to take this opportunity to present things in all openness and honesty. The key message: in the award of World Cup 2006, everything was done fairly,” he said.

“We have won the rights with 12 votes to 11. We don’t know who voted for us. The claims were definitely wrong. There was no slush fund, there were no votes bought.”

Niersbach added that he only learned of the payment in June this year after visiting Beckenbauer, who assured that the figure “appears on all financial statements”.

“Beckenbauer’s offer was probably made spontaneously,” he said. “He can only remember the starting point of the conversation with the FIFA president.”

Niersbach added that Louis-Dreyfus received no financial bonus in return for the loan.

FIFA confirmed this week that Beckenbauer was under investigation by the ethics committee over an alleged breach of the FIFA ethics code.

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