Man once tipped as a possible successor to Michel Platini as head of Fifa, could be left in the footballing wilderness.
Wolfgang Niersbach, deposed German federation president, is being threatened with a two-year ban from all football in the fall-out from the 2006 World Cup bidding scandal.
This is the recommendation to world federation FIFA’s adjudicatory chamber from investigating/prosecutor Cornel Borbely and is a further blow to Niersbach who remains a member of both FIFA’s governing council and the executive committee of European federation UEFA.
Niersbach has insisted on maintaining his well-paid posts within the governing associations despite seeing his reputation undermined by the 2006 scandal which led to his resignation as president of the DFB last autumn.
Borbely opened an investigation in March into the controversy as well as into the roles played by former 2006 bid then organising officials Niersbach, Franz Beckenbauer and Theo Zwanziger. Also under investigation are former DFB officials Helmut Sandrock, Horst R Schmidt and Stefan Hans.
The ethics action concerns mysterious payments in and out of the German federation’s accounts both before and after the award of the finals under circumstances which were controversial even at the time in July 2000.
Niersbach was communications director of the 2006 bid and organising committees. He later became general secretary and chief executive of the DFB before retiring on a lucrative pension which ‘freed’ him to take over from the Theo Zwanziger.
He has always denied being involved in any wrongdoing.
The Niersbach case will be considered by Alan Sullivan, the deputy chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, since senior judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, shares German nationality with Niersbach.
An ethics committee statement said: “The investigatory chamber recommends a sanction of a two-year ban from all football-related activity and a fine of CHF 30,000 for violations of arts 13, 15, 18, and 19 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
“Under its deputy chairman Mr Alan Sullivan, the adjudicatory chamber has studied the report of the investigatory chamber carefully and decided to institute formal adjudicatory proceedings against Mr Niersbach.”
Niersbach, who has the right to a hearing and submission of evidence in his own defence, was once considered a likely successor to Frenchman Michel Platini as president of UEFA. Platini is currently banned from football for four years on separate ethics issues.