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Sports

Opinion: The end of the fairy tale

Germany's summer fairy tale in 2006 is one of the most important spells in the country's modern history. But corruption allegations threaten the myth. If true, it's now hour zero for the DFB, says DW's Joscha Weber.

What a summer! The sun shone on Germany, and the country welcomed guests from across the globe and showed itself in a great light. "A time to make friends" was the slogan emblazoned on Germany flags. And the country actually kept its word: Germany impressed its guests with openness, joy and hospitality. The summer fairy tale, as its known in Germany, was born.

But now the tale has to be partially rewritten. According to German magazine "Der Spiegel", the German 2006 World Cup bid committee controlled a "slush fund" of around 13 million deutschmarks (six million euros) which may have been used to bribe four Asian members of the 24-strong FIFA Executive Committee. The vote finished 12:11 in favor of Germany. Decisions don't get any closer.

Should the reports from the usually reliable"Spiegel" be proven right, it's clear: without bribes, there would have been no summer fairy tale in 2006.

One miracle after another

Weber Joscha Kommentarbild App

DW sports editor Joscha Weber

Fairy tales tell of miraculous events. And there were questions about this one right from the beginning. South Africa was the favorite to host the 2006 World Cup. But the DFB bid won out and within half an hour rumors of corruption had surfaced. Why weren't more questions asked at the time about why New Zealand delegate Charlie Dempsey abstained from the vote, thereby handing Germany the majority?

On top of that, in the years to come, there was information about suspicious investments made by German companies like Mercedes in South Korea and of a weapons delivery to Saudi Arabia - two countries represented at the time on the executive committee. Recently, FIFA insider Guido Tognoni spoke about his doubts of a clean campaign to German television. Should his comments be proven right, it's now hour zero for Germany's football federation.

Everything needs to be reviewed. The current DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach and Franz Beckenbauer are alleged to have known about the slush fund. If that is true, it would certainly be the end for the top man in German football and the man known as Germany's footballing "Kaiser.' The governing body of Germany's most popular sport is potentially facing its biggest crisis.

The FIFA system must come to an end

The knowledge of their own skeleton in the closet would explain the strange reluctance of the DFB to get involved in corruption allegations against FIFA and UEFA. Niersbach was peculiarly reserved recently when it came to the criticism surrounding his fellow football executives. On Thursday, the cagey DFB was unreachable by telephone and only published a brief press release ahead of the "Spiegel" allegations. A credible denial sounds different.

But is corruption around Germany's World Cup bid a surprise? No, because in conjunction with almost all major sporting events awarded in recent years there have been allegations or concrete evidence of illegal practices. True to the motto: Give us your vote and we will reward you for it royally.

This FIFA system should come to an end. Change at all positions at the top is now indispensable for the organization. And that should apply to the DFB as well if the allegations turn out to be true. Niersbach is hanging on by a thread. The DFB's credibility is under threat.

Like a punch to the stomach, this feels like the end of the German summer fairy tale. It was just too good to be true.