Nicknamed “The Kaiser” and long since elevated a shining lights, Franz Beckenbauer was hailed particularly enthusiastically after the 2006 World Cup Finals had turned into a summer fairy tale. He was President of the Organizing Committee after, as chief of the bid committee, he had brought the tournament to Germany. This good reputation was damaged when the news magazine Der Spiegel reported on 16 October about slush funds of the Bid Committee and expressed the suspicion that in 2000 the Germans had bribed members of the FIFA Executive Committee.
Initially it was only a matter of 6.7 million Euros, which the Adidas boss Robert Louis Dreyfus had made available, and their repayment via an account of FIFA. Then, in the course of investigations conducted by a law firm commissioned by the German DFB national football federation, a paper was discovered which raised suspicions of a strange deal, which Beckenbauer apparently wanted to conclude with the then FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner (in the meantime suspended from football for life on grounds of corruption).
The DFB was plunged into a deep crisis, finally President Wolfgang Niersbach was forced to resign from office, after he came into disrepute as a result of activities and statements and was faced with the accusation of repeatedly not having told the truth. Niersbach was spokesman for the DFB and VicePresident Communications of the World Cup 2006 Organizing Committee and subse-quently DFB Secretary General before he ascended to the Presidency of the German Football Federation, which likes to bask in the superlative of being the largest sports association in the world.
In the meantime, everyone has agreed that only Beckenbauer could really provide enlightenment – the Sports Committee of the German Federal Parliament as well as the Acting DFB leadership. Now Beckenbauer has chosen the path via a daily newspaper to convey what the truth might have been.
In an extensive interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which is published in the weekend edition, he initially sharply criticizes the current leadership of the DFB for their treatment of him. Talking to the SZ reporters, Beckenbauer also voices his opinion on the controversial agreement with Jack Warner, which was regarded by the DFB as a possible attempt at bribery, and the ominous 6.7 million Euros, the purpose of which the federation cannot explain, and the discovery of which ultimately triggered off the scandal. Beckenbauer also reports about two meetings with the former DFB President Theo Zwanziger, who is occasionally apostrophized as the chief prosecutor in the affair, in the interview with the German newspaper, which has reported in greater detail than any other about the affair.
A week ago, in a full-page Beckenbauer profile of the Süddeutsche it read: “Franz Beckenbauer, whose life was always based on perfect timing, should have been an unassailable authority to continue to cast light on the matter, right now would have been the right time. But he finds himself in the swamp, he is no longer a free man, they call him the key figure. And as long as he remains silent, he is reminiscent of Helmut Kohl (former German Chancellor, ed.). The one does not name the donor, the other not the donations.”
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.