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Reports: Niersbach learned weeks ago of dubious contract

Reports have emerged that the former president of the DFB has known for weeks of a dubious contract linked to the 2006 World Cup. Previously, it had appeared that he had only learned of it in the past few days.

The Munich-based broadsheet "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and the "Spiegel" newsmagazine reported on Thursday that former DFB (German FA) President Wolfgang Niersbach knew about a draft contract signed by Franz Beckenbauer and Jack Warner much earlier than previously thought.

According to the "Süddeutsche," the document was found by the DFB's deputy general secretary, Stefan Hans, who immediately informed both General Secretary Helmut Sandrock and Niersbach - prior to a press conference called by Niersbach on October 22. That's when Niersbach first told reporters that the awarding of the 2006 had been completely above board, stressing that "there were no slush funds, no votes were bought."

Niether Niersbach nor the DFB, from which he resigned as president on Monday, have commented on the latest reports. When he announced his resignation, Niersbach suggested that he was doing so due to new information regarding the awarding of the World Cup, which he had previously not been aware of and had been revealed by the external firm hired by the DFB to look into the affair.

Contract for 'various services'

On Tuesday, Rainer Koch and Reinhard Rauball, the two vice presidents who have taken over Niersbach's duties on an interim basis, confirmed that Beckenbauer, who led the World Cup bid committee, had signed a draft contractual agreement on "various services" with CONCACAF, the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body. The contract, dated four days before the 2000 vote to award the 2006 World Cup, was signed on CONCACAF's behalf by Warner, but it is not clear whether it was acted upon.

A report published on Tuesday by the mass-circulation 'Bild' newspaper described the contract as "possibly a bribery attempt." Asked about this claim by television station Sky Sports, Rauball conceded that this possibility had to be considered.

Beckenbauer has not commented publicly on the document, but issued a statement on Wednesday saying that he will continue to cooperate with the external inquiry. Warner has denied having signed a contract with Beckenbauer in the first place.

Warner, a former FIFA vice president and member of its Executive Committee has been suspended by the world governing body's Ethics Committee and is facing corruption charges in the United States. US authorities are seeking his extradition from Trinidad and Tobago.

The DFB has brought in the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to look into alleged wrongdoing in the association. Specifically, they are investigating a 6.7-million-euro ($7.2 million) payment from the DFB to FIFA in connection with the 2006 World Cup.

Separately, German prosecutors have launched a tax-evasion investigation into Niersbach, his predecessor, Theo Zwanziger, and former DFB General-Secretary Horst R. Schmidt over the 6.7-million-euro payment.

pfd/ (dpa, SID)

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