German football icon Franz Beckenbauer has admitted that a mistake was made in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup. However, as the head of Germany's successful bid for the event, he said no votes were bought.
Franz Beckenbauer, who was president of the organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup, has again denied that the German bid used illicit funds to land the tournament.
In a statement released on Monday by the management company that represents him, Beckenbauer asserted that "no votes were bought to win the right to host the 2006 World Cup."
Instead, Beckenbauer appeared to back up a claim by DFB (German FA) President Wolfgang Niersbach, who told reporters at a press conference in Frankfurt last Thursday that a payment of 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros, $7.6 million) had been used to unlock FIFA subsidies for organizing the tournament.
Beckenbauer had previously denied that any votes were bought, but in Monday's statement, he conceded that the organizing committee had made a mistake.
"In order to receive a financial subsidy from FIFA, it was agreed to accept a recommendation from FIFA's Finance Committee, which from today's perspective, should have been rejected," Beckenbauer said.
"As the president of the organizing committee, I take responsibility for this error," he added.
Beckenbauer said he had made these statements during questioning by investigators from an outside firm that is looking into allegations of wrongdoing at the DFB in connection with the bidding process.
He added that he would not make any further statements so as not to hinder the work of the external investigation.
Beckenbauer's statement comes at a time when German football has been rocked by allegations first published in the online edition of "Spiegel" newsmagazine more than a week ago, in which it reported that a 2005 payment of 6.7 million euros made by the World Cup's organizing committee 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 tournament.
However, Niersbach has denied this, saying that the original payment from 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 asserted at last Thursday's press conference.
The DFB has hired the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to investigate the matter.