German FA probes payment to Fifa before 2006 World Cup

Germany's Football Association said it’s investigating a $7.61 million payment.

Picture: AFP.

BERLIN - Germany's Football Association (DFB) said on Friday it was investigating a $7.61-million payment from the country's 2006 World Cup organising committee to Fifa that may not have been used as intended.

The German association said it had found no indication of wrongdoing in the overall process that awarded that year's global soccer tournament to Germany.

But the news will cast a further shadow over the sport's international governing body, already mired in US and Swiss investigations into allegations of high-level corruption, possibly involving the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

The DFB said it had initially started an investigation into the awarding of the 2006 World Cub to Germany, partly because of speculation about it in the media. "Within the framework of these investigations, the DFB found no indication of irregularities while there was equally no indication whatsoever that votes of delegates were bought," the German association said in a statement.

But during those broader investigations, it came across an April 2005 payment from the German organising committee to Fifa.

"This may potentially not have been used for the intended purpose," the association said, adding it was looking at all legal aspects of the case and the potential for a possible demand for the return of the money.

World Cup-winning Germany captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer, a former Fifa Executive Committee member, was head of the 2006 German organising committee. He could not be immediately reached for a statement.

Fifa has been engulfed in the biggest crisis of its 111-year history since May when 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted in the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150 million in payments.

Following the arrests, Swiss authorities began their own investigation and last month opened criminal proceedings against outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter for criminal mismanagement.

He was then banned for 90 days by Fifa's own ethics committee along with Michel Platini, the head of European soccer's governing body and the favourite to succeed Blatter in next year's presidential election.

In July 2000, Germany edged out favourites South Africa by 12 votes to 11 to win hosting rights for the 2006 tournament.