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DFB President Niersbach denies cash-for-votes allegations

The president of the German FA has again rejected allegations that illegal payments helped Germany win the right to host the 2006 World Cup. Wolfgang Niersbach made the statement at the opening of a football museum.

DFB (German FA) President Niersbach addressed the allegations made in the latest edition of the German newsmagazine "Spiegel," in a statement to journalists at the press conference at the official opening of the museum in Dortmund.

"There were

no slush funds,

no votes were bought," Niersbach said at the start of the media event.

"We will refute the 'Spiegel' claims and take legal action against them," he added.

Nierbach also reiterated that an internal DFB investigation was looking into whether a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.6 million) made by the German FA to FIFA for a cultural program had been used as intended.

According to the "Spiegel" report, the late CEO of German sports equipment company Adidas, Robert Louis Dreyfus, loaned the committee in charge of Germany's bid to host the 2006 World Cup the funds to pay bribes to FIFA officials to help land the tournament.

Both Niersbach, who was a vice president of the 2006 organizing committee and its president,

Franz Beckenbauer, have previously rejected the allegations

as groundless, arguing that the newsmagazine had provided no evidence to back up its claims.

"I have not sent anyone money to acquire votes for the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany," the 70-year-old Beckenbauer said in a statement issued on Sunday. "And I'm sure that no other member of the bidding committee did either."

Prosecutors look into 'Spiegel' claims

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt, where the DFB has its headquarters, said on Monday that it its staff were looking into the claims made by the newsmagazine, but that it had not yet opened a formal investigation.

"This could be about corruption, fraud or breach of trust," Frankfurt chief prosecutor Nadja Niesen told the SID sports news agency.

"We will examine the available documents. But we are still at the very beginning and have not yet launched an investigation. This could happen if we can confirm there is initial cause for suspicion," she said.

Meanwhile, Christian Schertz, a lawyer for the DFB, was quoted by SID as saying that the football association could take legal action against "Spiegel" if the DFB were to "incur financial damage due to this reporting."

Germany earned the right to host the 2006 World Cup by beating South Africa by 12 to 11 in voting by members of FIFA's Executive Committee in July 2000, after New Zealand's Charles Dempsey abstained in the final ballot.

pfd/msh (SID, dpa)

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