The former president of the German FA could face a two-year ban from football as a result of a FIFA inquiry. Wolfgang Niersbach has denied wrongdoing and pledged to fight any attempt to sanction him.
A statement released by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee on Friday announced that it had opened formal proceedings against Niersbach, who, in addition to being the former president of the German football association (DFB), was also a vice-president of the bid and organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup.
The statement said that the move came after careful study of a report by the Committee's investigatory chamber, which had launched an investigation two months ago into alleged wrongdoing by Niersbach. The statement did not detail the allegations against the former DFB boss, but it the investigatory chamber's investigation looked into a "possible failure to report" unethical conduct and conflicts of interest.
It said the investigatory chamber had recommended "a sanction of a two-year ban from all football-related activity and a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs" (30,000 euros, $30,300), and that Niersbach would be invited to present evidence in his defense and was free to request a hearing.
'A matter of honor'
Shortly after the adjudicatory chamber announced the formal proceedings against him, Niersbach, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, responded by saying he would fight any attempt to ban him from the game.
"It's a matter of honor and defense of my rights to oppose this request with all possible legal means," said in an interview with German news agency SID, where he once worked as a journalist.
"The penalty is incomprehensible. Especially when compared to other cases where the Ethics Commission has not made such harsh judgements in cases of personal advantage and corruption."
"In my case, the charge is based solely on the fact that I did not speak soon enough about things related to the 2006 World Cup," Niersbach concluded.
Niersbach, 65, resigned as DFB president amid a slush-fund scandal last year, which was related to Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup. However, he remains a member of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of soccer's European governing body, UEFA.
pfd/dv (dpa, SID, AFP, Reuters)