Germany admits to Fifa deal but not to vote buying

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A previously secret financial deal between Sepp Blatter and Franz Beckenbauer was revealed by the German football federation yesterday as it sought to further defend a payment to Fifa from 2006 World Cup organisers.

The explanation from an uneasy federation chairman Wolfgang Niersbach at a hastily-called news conference was followed by football’s governing body saying the payment “in no way corresponds to Fifa’s standard processes and regulations”.

The statements created further confusion over the €6.7 million payment, which Fifa is investigating after German publication Der Spiegel claimed that the bidding team created a slush fund to secure votes.

Germany has been denying wrongdoing throughout the last week but the pressure has been growing on Niersbach and the federation (DFB).

“Everything was done with honest means for the 2006 World Cup bid,” Niersbach said. “There were no slush funds, no vote-buying.”

According to Niersbach, the €6.7m payment stemmed from a financing agreement with Fifa by tournament organisers to secure a grant of 250 million Swiss francs (about €230m).

Niersbach could not clarify why a wealthy federation like DFB did not take out a bank credit if it needed funds for the work of the organising committee.

The deal for the payment was made during a private meeting between Fifa president Blatter and World Cup organising committee chief Beckenbauer in January 2002 – two years after Germany secured the hosting rights by one vote, Niersbach said. Niersbach explained that he only learned about the deal when he visited Beckenbauer at his Austrian residence on Tuesday.

The money paid back through Fifa in early 2005 from the World Cup organising committee had been earmarked for an opening gala that had been cancelled, Niersbach told reporters.

Fifa responding by saying “in general the Fifa finance committee is not authorised to receive payments in any way, nor does it have its own bank account.”

Spiegel reported that a cover for a slush fund was created with the help of FIFA.