German football president Wolfgang Niersbach says that a controversial 6.7 million-euro payment was not a bribe to obtain the right to host the 2006 World Cup, although he was unable to answer some questions about the nature of the payment.
German news weekly Spiegel claimed in a report last week that the German bidding committee had accepted a 10.3 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at that time) loan from the then CEO of Adidas, Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
“The main issue is what I underlined last week. That everything was legal with the awarding of the 2006 World Cup. No slush funds and no bought votes. This allegation … is not true,” Niersbach said.
Niersbach explained that the sum in question was paid to Fifa in 2002 in order to subsequently receive some 170 million euros in subsidies from football’s governing body.
Asked why FIFA needed 6.7 million euros to pay out a much higher sum, Niersbach said: “I do not know that.
“I don’t want it to look like I am dodging questions … but today I cannot give you a complete explanation. There are open questions and that is why we asked the legal firm (last week) to investigate it.
“There are question marks regarding this process that I have as well,” he added.
The DFB has already launched an investigation into the 2005 payment of the amount in question to Fifa saying they wanted to see if the money go towards paying for a cultural programme as was orginally intended.
Niersbach said he did not know how the money was used by Fifa once it was transferred by the Germans.
He said he had been aware of the issue since June, and apologised for not having informed other board members earlier.
Spiegel alleged the loan was used to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA’s 24-strong executive committee.
At the vote in July 2000 Germany saw off South Africa by 12 votes to 11 – Charles Dempsey of New Zealand abstained – to win the right to hold the 2006 World Cup.