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Zwanziger had 'no knowledge' that FIFA payment was dubious

A war of words between the German FA and its former president continued this weekend. The two sides have been trading allegations about alleged wrongdoing related to Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

Former DFB (German FA) President Theo Zwanziger hit back on Saturday at current senior German football officials who have criticized him for not taking action to clear up any possible wrongdoing in connection with a disputed 6.7 million-euro ($7.6 million) payment to FIFA made during his time in office.

Speaking to the DPA news agency on Saturday, Zwanziger asserted that while he was in office, he had no indication that there was anything fishy about the payment, and that he had only become suspicious about it at a later date.

"Between 2005, the date of the payment transfer, and 2012, the assessment of all parties that it should be handled as a commission payment did not change," said Zwanziger, who was succeeded by Wolfgang Niersbach as DFB president in 2012. "There was no knowledge in my office [that it might be dubious]."

He also said he could cooperate with an investigation into the matter being conducted by the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

'Spiegel' allegations

German football has been rocked by allegations first published in the online edition of "Spiegel" newsmagazine eight days ago, in which it alleged that the 2005 payment was to reimburse the late former Adidas CEO, Robert Louis-Dreyfus for a loan of 10 million Swiss francs in 2000. The report cited unnamed sources who said the money had been used to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA's Executive Committee, helping Germany win the right to host the 2006 World Cup.

However, DFB President Niersbach has denied this, saying that the original payment from Dreyfus wasn't made until 2002 and was actually used to unlock 250 million Swiss francs in subsidies to help pay for organizing the World Cup. There were "no slush funds, no votes were bought," Niersbach asserted at a press conference on Thursday.

In the latest issue of "Spiegel," though, Zwanziger said it was clear that there had been a slush fund associated with the 2006 bidding process. He also accused Niersbach of lying.

Also in that issue, Zwanziger was quoted as saying that another vice president of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee, Horst R. Schmidt, had told him during a telephone conversation earlier this week, that the payment had gone to then FIFA Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam.

Schmidt too, struck back on Saturday, denying having made such a statement during their conversation.

"It is outrageous that Theo Zwanziger brings the contents of a private telephone call into the public domain," Schmidt told the mass-circulation newspaper "Bild."

"I will not say that Bin Hammam was the recipient of the money," Schmidt said. "I just do not know."

There has been no comment from Bin Hammam, who was banned from FIFA and football-related activities for life by the world governing body's Ethics Committee in 2011.

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