An independent report into allegations of corruption in Germany’s successful bid for the 2006 FIFA World Cup has found no clear evidence of votes being bought but the possibility cannot be ruled out due to the amount of files and documents that could not be obtained, it has been announced today.
Conducted by law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the report focused on a payment of €6.7 million (£5 million/$7.6 million) and claims it was used as a slush fund to buy the votes of four members of the FIFA Executive Committee.
It was suggested that a loan had been made by the late Adidas chief executive Robert Louis-Dreyfus to the Bid Committee, which did not appear on accounts, with the money then used as bribes.
A separate payment was made into a Swiss bank account before it was transferred to an account potentially linked to Mohammed bin Hammam, who was banned from football for life in 2012, according to investigators.
Suspicious transactions involving bid leader Franz Beckenbauer and a Swiss law firm, which were then transferred to Bin Hammam, were also flagged by the report.
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, banned for six years for a series of ethics breaches, refused to be interviewed by Freshfields as part of their investigations.
Acting FIFA general secretary Markus Kattner also declined to co-operate, reportedly because of the ongoing probe into alleged widespread corruption by Swiss criminal authorities.
Freshfields, who looked in to over 128,000 electronic documents, claim some of the files they wanted to see “could not be found”, including one entitled “FIFA 2000”.
The file was taken out of the German Football Association (DFB) archives by a colleague of former DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach in June 2015 and has now disappeared, it is claimed.
In a statement, FIFA claimed their own investigation was “hampered by the fact that key witnesses were not willing to answer questions or provide documents”.
“FIFA shared information with the DFB to assist with its investigation and, in turn, received information from the DFB which is helpful to FIFA’s own investigation,” a statement from world football’s governing body read.
“However, many questions still remain to be answered.
“FIFA’s investigation has been hampered by the fact that key witnesses were not willing to answer questions or provide documents.
“FIFA maintains its victim status in all investigations and continues to co-operate with the Swiss and German authorities, who are in the best position to obtain all of the information necessary to understanding the facts of this matter.”
Beckenbauer, who led the Bid Committee for the 2006 World Cup, and Niersbach were both spoken to twice by the law firm.
The 1974 World Cup winner was last week fined and warned by FIFA’s Ethics Committee for failing to co-operate with the investigations into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid processes, won by Russia and Qatar respectively.
Both Niersbach and Beckenbauer had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Niersbach opted to resign from his role as head of the DFB in November after the allegations surfaced in German publication Der Spiegel but remains a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.
His predecessor Theo Zwanziger and the association's former general secretary Horst R. Schmidt were also allegedly implicated in the cash for votes scandal.
Helmut Sandrock, the DFB general secretary, quit his role last Friday as the body were preparing for the publication of the long-awaited report.
The German bid defeated South Africa by a narrow margin of 12 votes to 11 back in 2000, with New Zealand's Charlie Dempsey abstaining from the second round of voting after stating there had been "intolerable pressure" prior to the ballot.
Click here for a link to the full report.