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DFB board stages extraordinary meeting

The German Football Association, the DFB, is convening on Monday, November 9 after weeks of controversy surrounding unaccounted money connected to the 2006 World Cup. The organization's president is under fire.

The fate of DFB president Wolfsgang Niersbach could be on the line as the football association's board comes together at its Frankfurt headquarters.

Niersbach is expected to face questions from the other members of the board about a tax-evasion investigation over a 2005 payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.4 million) to FIFA. Niersbach has denied knowing anything about the money back then when he served as the vice president of Germany's World Cup organizing committee.

But last week saw the publication of a draft letter to FIFA from the 2006 World Cup committee in 2004, which seems to contain handwritten notes by Niersbach. In the letter the words "the agreed fee for H.L.D." are seen, with the initials seemingly standing for Herrn (Mr) Louis-Dreyfus, the late former Adidas CEO and recipient of the money.

Niersbach, 64, has not made any public comment about the investigation, in which the

DFB's headquarters and his private residence were raided by police

on Tuesday. However, he has been coming under growing pressure to resign over the affair. The private homes of

his predecessor, Theo Zwanziger,

as well as former DFB General Secretary Horst R. Schmidt were also searched.

All three have been named as suspects in the investigation by Frankfurt's prosecutors' office.

Niersbach questioned

The prosecutors' office said the investigation was based on "suspicion of tax evasion in a particularly severe case" related to the 2005 payment, which was declared as being used for a cultural event which never took place. Declaring it as being for a cultural event would have reduced the amount of tax that it was required to pay on the money transfer.

It has since emerged that the funds were used to reimburse - through FIFA - the late former Adidas CEO, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who had loaned the organizing committee a similar amount a few years earlier.

Niersbach has said these funds were paid to FIFA in 2002 to unlock subsidies to help organize the 2006 tournament. However, the newsmagazine "Spiegel" has alleged that the funds were actually used to sway the 2000 FIFA vote on who should host the 2006 World Cup in Germany's favor.

The DFB president has denied that any votes were bought.

The DFB posted a short statement on its website on Friday, in which it said that on Thursday Niersbach had faced several hours of questioning by investigators from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the firm it has brought in to look into the allegations of vote-buying. No further details were released.

pfd/apc (dpa, SID)

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