German Franz Beckenbauer
shares a lot in common with Frenchman Michel Platini
. Both are the greatest players their countries have ever produced. Both captained and coached their national
teams. As executives, both brought the World Cup to their respective countries and oversaw the organization of the tournament. And sadly at the twilight of their careers, they have become embroiled in
Platini is appealing his six-year ban from soccer for accepting a payment of $2 million from FIFA president Sepp Blatter
long after FIFA was obligated to pay him. Even if
Platini wins his appeal, he has paid a price -- it cost him his likely ascension to the FIFA presidency.
Not for the first time, Beckenbauer has incurred the wrath of the FIFA ethics
committee. It slapped his wrist when he refused to cooperate with American prosecutor Michael Garcia
, investigating the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
This time the FIFA ethics case
is more serious.
Beckenbauer is one of four Germans being investigated for "possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup host selection." The
others are former German federation (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger
, former secretary general Horst Schmidt
, and former chief finance officer Stefan Hans
Germans -- former DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach
and former DFB secretary general Helmut Sandroc
k -- are being investigated for a possible failure to report a breach of ethics.
These are among the most powerful men in international soccer. Beckenbauer and Zwanziger both served on the FIFA executive committee, while Niersbach is still on the exco. Schmidt served with
former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke
, himself suspended from soccer, and American Sunil Gulati
in running the FIFA Ticket Bureau that oversaw ticket sales for the 2014 World Cup
But the big name is Beckenbauer, "Der Kaiser."
The FIFA charges follow a DFB investigation into a mystery payment of $10 million it made to FIFA in 2005. The
payment was supposedly to organize a gala event but no one believes that. The money then went to the late head of adidas, Frenchman Robert Louis-Dreyfus
Der Spiegel reported a
slush fund was used to buy the 2006 World Cup hosting rights Germany controversially won over South Africa, and the payment was to repay Louis-Dreyfus.
Germany defeated South Africa by
just one vote (12-11) when Oceania president Charlie Dempsey
unexpectedly abstained from the final vote. If the vote had been, 12-12, Blatter would have cast the deciding vote -- to South
Beckenbauer says the payment was a mistake but denies the corruption charges, claiming he knew nothing about the circumstances of the payment even though it came from the law firm
of his late counselor, Robert Schwan
“I never gave money to anyone in order to acquire votes so that Germany is awarded the 2006 World Cup," he said. "And I am certain that
no other member of the bid committee did something like that.”
Still, it does not look good for Beckenbauer and his German cohorts, and like Platini, Der Kaiser finds his reputation