The nation whose leaders repeatedly imposed their “so-called” morals and ethics on Greece during the summer of 2015’s debt negotiations is the focus of— yet another— corruption probe involving winning of the hosting rights of the 2006 World Cup. The latest scandal follows the massive scandal involving German automaker Volkswagen which has led to international embarrassment for the country.
The German publication Der Spiegel reported on Friday, October 16, 2015 that German soccer officials bribed members of the FIFA world soccer organization to win the honor of hosting the world’s largest athletic competition after the Olympics.
Spiegel said the German bidding committee set up a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6 million at that time) that was contributed in a private capacity by former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
The money was used to secure the votes of four Asian representatives on FIFA’s 24-member executive committee before the tournament was awarded to Germany on July 6, 2000, the magazine said. The Asian delegation joined European representatives in voting for Germany, which won 12-11 after Charles Dempsey of New Zealand abstained from the vote.
Spiegel said that both Franz Beckenbauer, the former Germany great who headed the bidding committee, and Wolfgang Niersbach, the current president of the German football federation (DFB), as well as other high-ranking football officials were aware of the slush fund by 2005 at the latest. Louis-Dreyfus’ loan payment was reportedly kept secret — it did not appear in the bidding committee’s budget, nor later in the budget of the World Cup organizing committee.
Spiegel said Louis-Dreyfus asked for the money back a year-and-a-half before the tournament began. By then it was worth 6.7 million euros. Beckenbauer, by then the president of the organizing committee, and Niersbach, the vice president, “began looking for a way in 2005 to pay back the illicit funds in an inconspicuous manner,” the magazine said.
Spiegel reported that a cover was created with the help of FIFA and that 6.7 million euros was transferred to world soccer’s governing body as a contribution to an opening ceremony gala that was later canceled.
“The money had been paid into a FIFA bank account in Geneva. From there, FIFA allegedly promptly transferred the money to a Zurich account belonging to Louis-Dreyfus,” Spiegel reported.
FIFA said these “are very serious allegations” that “will be reviewed as part of the independent internal investigation currently being conducted by FIFA under the direction of its legal director with the assistance of outside counsel.”