Police have launched raids on the headquarters of the German football association amid a growing scandal surrounding the country's bid to host the 2006 World Cup. The DFB has said it is cooperating with the probe.
Dozens of police officers and investigators from Germany's tax authorities launched the raids on the Frankfurt headquarters of the DFB (German FA) on Tuesday morning, seizing files, computers and hard discs, and they looked for evidence of possible tax evasion related to Germany's bid to host the 2006 tournament.
"There were raids at the DFB headquarters as well as at homes of three accused - the DFB president, former DFB president and former general secretary," a statement released by the Frankfurt prosecutors' office said, without naming names.
However, the three are understood to beDFB President Wolfsgang Niersbach,
his predecessor,Theo Zwanziger
and the DFB's former general secretary, Horst R. Schmidt.
The statement, issued by Nadja Niesen, Frankfurt's senior state prosecutor, said the raids were carried out "over suspicions of tax evasion in a particularly serious case", and related to a 6.7-million-euro ($7.4 million) payment made to FIFA by the World Cup organizing committee in 2005.
Niesen said the organizing committee had filed payment to the tax authorities, it was booked as part of its contribution to a FIFA cultural program. However, it was "actually used for other purposes," she said.
The statement added that the defendants were being investigated for allegedly "submitting inaccurate tax returns in their previous responsibilities" and thus "shortchanging... taxes due for 2006 by a significant amount."
DFB 'fully supports' investigation
A few hours after the raids were launched, the DFB issued its own statement, saying that it was cooperating with the prosecutors' office in its investigation.
It said the the DFB "fully supports" the investigation, and that it had been told by prosecutors that the probe was limited to tax evasion allegations.
"The DFB itself is not an accused party in the proceedings," the statement stressed.
Tuesday's raids are just the latest development in a scandal that has swirled around the DFB and FIFA for weeks now.
All involved in the affair seem to agree that the 2005 payment was to reimburse former Adidas CEO Louis -Dreyfus for a loan of 10 million Swiss francs that he had made to the committee that first bid for, then organized the 2006 World Cup.
Where the parties disagree is on when Louis-Dreyfus made the original loan - and what the funds were used for.
A story published in the newsmagazine "Spiegel" last month claimed that he had made the payment in 2000 and that the funds were used to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA's Executive Committee, helping Germany win the right to host the 2006 tournament.
'No slush funds, no votes bought'
However, both Niersbach, who was vice president of the organizing committee and its president, Franz Beckenbauer have denied that any votes were bought. Niersbach has said that the original payment from Louis-Dreyfus wasn't made until 2002, long after Germany had been awarded the World Cup. There were "no slush funds, no votes were bought," Niersbach said at a press conference late last month.
Astatement released by Beckenbauer
last week, supported Niersbach's account of the story.