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Football corruption Swiss prosecutor indicts German officials over 2006 World Cup fraud

World Cup trophy

The 2006 World Cup tournament has been shrouded in allegations of corruption

(Keystone / Peter Powell)

Swiss prosecutors have officially accused three former German football officials and a Swiss ex-secretary general of FIFA of corruption in relation to the 2006 football World Cup in Germany.

Tuesday’s indictment by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) names Horst Rudolf Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, former members of the German Football Association; and Urs Linsi, who once held the second most powerful position at FIFA. Schmidt, Zwanziger and Linsi are accused of fraud, while Niersbach is suspected of complicity in the alleged fraud.

All four accused deny the allegations.

The allegation centres on a CHF10 million loan taken out in 2002 by former German football star Franz Beckenbauer, who helped coordinate Germany’s bid to stage the 2006 World Cup. Although Beckenbauer also faces OAG charges, his case is being conducted separately due to his health problems, a statement readexternal link.

The four people named in Tuesday’s indictment are accused of covering up repayment of the suspicious loan by passing it off as a contribution towards the 2006 World Cup opening ceremony. The OAG says the CHF10 million was in fact used to pay disgraced former FIFA official Mohammed Bin Hammam – but cannot ascertain exactly what the payment was used for.

Although Beckenbauer raised the money in the form of a personal loan from a prominent financier, the OAG says the sum of €6.7 million (CHF10 million at exchange rates at the time) was fraudulently repaid in 2005 through a German Football Association account via FIFA.

The award of numerous past World Cups, which generate billions of dollars in revenue, has long been associated with corruption and kickbacks. Although world football’s governing body FIFA claims that it has since cleaned up its act, the 2006 World Cup edition is one that has attracted much suspicion.

The indictment is the result of a four-year investigation by the OAG, which last month decided to drop proceedings on alleged money laundering linked to the case.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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