Football: 'Can't rule out' vote-buying by Germany for 2006 World Cup: inquiry

4th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

An inquiry into allegations that Germany bought votes to win hosting rights for the 2006 World Cup said Friday it could not rule out the possibility that bribes were paid.

"We have no proof that votes were bought, but we cannot rule this out," said Christian Duve from Freshfields, a law firm commissioned by the German Football Federation (DFB) to probe corruption allegations.

Duve added however that "we have been able to see that there could have been a change in the voting behaviour and this could have affected Asian FIFA officials".

German football has been roiled by allegations that first emerged in magazine Spiegel last October that the DFB used a slush fund to buy votes in order to host the tournament.

At the heart of the claims was a 6.7 million euro (10 million franc according to the exchange rate at that time) payment that Spiegel said was borrowed by DFB from Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the former CEO of German sportswear giant Adidas, in order to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA's 24-strong executive committee.

Following the allegations, the DFB's former boss Wolfgang Niersbach had claimed that the federation had transferred the 10 million francs to FIFA in order to obtain a grant worth 250 million francs (or 170 million euros).

In the report running to 380 pages, Freshfields confirmed that the sum was borrowed from Louis-Dreyfus, but said it failed to obtain clarity on what the sum was ultimately used for.

"It is not clear whether the payment of 10 million francs was used only to secure a funding grant of FIFA amounting to 250 million francs, or for other purposes," it said.

In 2000, Germany won the bid to stage the 2006 World Cup ahead of South Africa by 12 votes to 11, with one abstention.

© 2016 AFP

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