Commentary

Another giant of European soccer is disgraced

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 scandal.

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.

Two other Germans -- former DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach and former DFB secretary general Helmut Sandrock -- 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 in Brazil.

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 Africa.

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 in tatters.
5 comments about "Another giant of European soccer is disgraced".
  1. ROBERT BOND, March 24, 2016 at 9 a.m.

    doesn't help Bayern much either with his meddling....

  2. Marc Monte, March 24, 2016 at 9:38 a.m.

    Maybe instead of defaming one legend (yeah... running a piece like this when you know there have been no findings constitutes defamation), you can try some sort of tribute to Johan Cruyff.
    Really... if I didn't know you and your staff were completely oblivious to the game I'd swear you are being deliberately disrespectful. But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it is simple ignorance on your part.

  3. :: SilverRey :: replied, March 24, 2016 at 12:38 p.m.

    @Marc Two completely separate issues. Cruyff absolutely should be respected today. But as for Beckenbauer, nobody has charged him with anything yet (as per the article), but the fact that he's being investigated by the FEC is news. I hope that he really didn't have anything to do with it, but I don't see any disrespect in this article.

  4. Wooden Ships, March 24, 2016 at 3:13 p.m.

    I want Qatar cancelled, that was corrupt as hell. FIFA needs to start there. Doesn't make it right but bribes, influence peddling and scratch my back has been the way of the world, for most of the world. I do want FIFA pristine, but first be corrupt again and change your minds on Qatar. Just tell them you found some hanging chads.

  5. Alex Stroessner, March 24, 2016 at 5 p.m.

    Don't worry. 'You' will not be able to change any minds to the passions of yesteryear.

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