World football’s governing body files for compensation in US as a victim of corruption by former officials.
Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against German football legend Franz Beckenbauer and two former presidents of Germany’s football federation in connection with its successful bid for the 2006 World Cup.
The Attorney General’s office in Bern said on Thursday that proceedings have started into allegations related to fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation, Reuters news agency reported.
Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating alleged corruption linked to world football body FIFA and the World Cup.
“Searches of premises or searches on a cooperative basis for the collection of evidence were carried out in eight separate locations (in Austria and Germany) at the same time today,” the Swiss federal prosecution office said in a statement.
“In addition, various suspects were questioned by or on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.”
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said Beckenbauer is still referred to by fans in Germany as “The Emperor” for his stellar career as a player in the West German national side and coach of the Germany team in 1990 when they won the World Cup.
“The thought that someone so intimately involved with success and German football might have also something untoward associated with him will indeed cause consternation among many German football fans,” Kane said.
In all, four members of the 2006 World Cup tournament’s organising committee were placed under investigation.
They were Beckenbauer – who led West Germany to World Cup wins as both player and manager – former German football federation presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, and former secretary-general Horst Schmidt.
Widely regarded as one of football’s finest players, Beckenbauer captained the West Germany team that won the 1974 World Cup and was coach when they won again in 1990.
Now 70, he is also a former member of FIFA’s executive committee.
Beckenbauer’s lawyers said he is cooperating with “all authorities involved.
“Franz Beckenbauer has supported the Swiss federal prosecutors’ investigations since he has known about them, and cooperated constructively in today’s search,” lawyers Werner Leitner and Michael Nesselhauf said in a statement reported by German news agency DPA.
In February, the German football federation published a 361-page inquiry report that tried to explain a complex trail about payments of 6.7m euros ($7.3m) and 10m Swiss francs ($10m) being investigated by German and Swiss authorities.
The money linked Beckenbauer, then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter, one-time FIFA power broker Mohamed bin Hammam, and Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the late former Adidas executive and former part-owner of Swiss marketing agency Infront.
That inquiry, by law firm Freshfields, suggested a deeper involvement than previously suspected of Beckenbauer, who later joined the FIFA executive committee from 2007 to 2011.
The report said the payment by the German football federation to FIFA on April 27, 2005, was “falsely declared” by the World Cup organising committee for an opening gala, but was intended for Louis-Dreyfus.
That same day, FIFA transferred the money to a Swiss account set up by Louis-Dreyfus.
The inquiry report said Blatter was aware of the payment, though the former FIFA president has denied the claim.