The president of Germany's DFB soccer federation has said he is shocked both by the bribery scandal rocking world body FIFA, and by the rather relaxed approach adopted by President Sepp Blatter.
DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach said that he and his colleagues were disappointed both by the corruption scandal plaguing FIFA, and by the world body's reaction to it.
"I'm speaking for the entire board of the DFB when I say that we are appalled. It is a shocking fact," Niersbach said at a referees' convention in the Black Forest in southwestern Germany on Saturday.
Long-running allegations of graft dating back to the 1990s involving FIFA's former marketing company International Sport and Leisure (ISL) went public in a Swiss courtroom on Wednesday.
"These things, which for years have wafted around as speculation, as rumor and suspicion, have now become official," Niersbach said. "You might well class me as naïve, but until the moment of the official announcement I was not able to believe it."
Former FIFA President Joao Havelange and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixera accepted bribes worth millions in World Cup deals, and current president Sepp Blatter admitted in a statement on the FIFA website that he was "P1," the unnamed official in a court document who knew of a 1 million Swiss franc (830,000 euros, $1 million) payment from ISL to Havelange.
Blatter's reaction also in question
Blatter wrote in the FIFA statement that "you can't judge the past on the basis of today's standards, otherwise it would end up with moral justice." FIFA's internal laws at the time did not explicitly prohibit the payment of bribes as they now do, though prosecutors allege the payments constituted a breach of Swiss law.
"I am just as shocked by the reaction of the FIFA president (Blatter)," Niersbach also said. "When by no means unimportant FIFA representatives have evidently pocketed money and then all that's said is that it wasn't forbidden at the time, then that is a reaction from which we at the DFB wish to completely distance ourselves."
Niersbach was speaking shortly after an interview with the president of the German football League (DFL), Reinhard Rauball, was published in the Saturday edition of the Die Welt newspaper. Rauball had said that, given the current situation, Blatter "should pass his official duties into other hands" as soon as possible.
"For a reform process to take place, FIFA needs someone who is prepared to make a new start," Rauball told the paper. Niersbach, however, did not go quite as far on Saturday.
"When a situation like this arises, then the first person to speak should be the person who is affected. Only the affected party can answer questions about stepping down," Niersbach said of Blatter.
Blatter took over the presidency from Havelange in 1998. He was re-elected to a fourth term in office last June in an unopposed vote after his only rival, former committee member Mohamed bin Hammam, was thrown out over allegations of receiving bribes.
msh/mkg (dpa, SID)