For the first time since the emergence of the slush fund affair, Franz Beckenbauer has addressed his role in the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany. But the most important questions remain unanswered.
Legendary player and coach Franz Beckenbauer - who was also the head of Germany's bid for the 2006 World Cup - denied knowledge of a slush fund involving the German Football Association (DFB) an interview with Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. It was his first major interview since news broke of alleged 6.7-million euro slush fund the DFB maintained.
Germany's leading news magazine Der Spiegel and other media have speculated that the money may have been used to buy Asian votes needed for Germany to secure the rights to host football's biggest event. Beckenbauer has become the center of scrutiny after it emerged that in 2000 he signed an understanding agreement with Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice-president who's currently suspended for life and wanted by US law enforcement authorities.
Beckenbauer denies that there was anything wrong with the agreement and claims that he didn't necessarily understand the import of everything he signed fifteen years ago.
"Do you know how many things I signed in those days?" Beckenbauer told Süddeutsche Zeitung. "I simply signed everything , sometimes before the document was even finished…I always signed documents blind when my signature was required."
In the interview, Beckenbauer explicitly denies that the Germany World Cup committee bribed FIFA officials to secure votes.
"The accusation is wrong," Beckenbauer said. "We didn't have any money. We were dependent on subsidies from FIFA. "
Beckenbauer admitted that the contract with Warner "looks dubious" today, but said that the leaders of Germany's World Cup bid had wanted "only the best."
"I know that I did nothing wrong," Beckenbauer said. "I gave my all to bring the World Cup to Germany, which we succeeded in doing. I have a clean conscience. We didn't bribe anyone, and we didn't have any slush funds…We only meant well. Why do people always believe negative things?"
Beckenbauer offered no explanation for the 6.7 million euros the DFB borrowed from a sportswear magnate and then surreptitiously repaid in the form of a supposed donation to a FIFA cultural fund. Questions are sure to persist about how the DFB and Germany won the right to host the 2006 World Cup until some one addresses that mysterious sum.