Franz Beckenbauer was questioned by Swiss prosecutors on Thursday over allegations of corruption surrounding the 2006 World Cup.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland last year started criminal proceedings against German football great Beckenbauer and three other senior board members from the 2006 World Cup’s organising committee.
The proceedings concern allegations of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money-laundering and misappropriation.
The Swiss authorities have been investigating a £5.6million payment made by the German FA (DFB) , via FIFA, to former Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus in April 2005.
Those under investigation were prominent figures at the DFB during Germany’s World Cup bid campaign, of which Beckenbauer was the figurehead, and all were on the executive board of the 2006 World Cup organising committee, with Beckenbauer its president.
Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner both as a player and manager of West Germany, has denied wrongdoing and said in a statement reported by Germany’s SID news agency: “Today I appeared for a long-arranged meeting with the Swiss attorney general and answered all their questions.”
Germany’s successful bid for the 2006 World Cup has been dogged by allegations of wrongdoing ever since it beat South Africa’s pitch by 12 votes to 11 in July 2000.
Charlie Dempsey, a delegate from the Oceania confederation, abstained in the final round, citing “intolerable pressure”.
He had been mandated to vote for England as first choice and then South Africa. His vote would have made it 12-12, giving former FIFA president Sepp Blatter a deciding vote that he would have cast for South Africa.
German news magazine Der Spiegel alleged in October 2015 that a slush fund was used to acquire four key votes from Asia in time for the vote. The magazine claimed the fund was set up using money provided by Louis-Dreyfus, acting in a private capacity.
Der Spiegel claimed the money was later re-paid to Dreyfus in 2005 using Zurich-based world governing body FIFA as cover – the German World Cup organising committee made a financial contribution for a gala opening ceremony at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium which was cancelled five months before the start of the tournament.
The publication alleged the money was paid into a FIFA bank account in Geneva and from there transferred to a Zurich account belonging to Louis-Dreyfus, who has since died.
Beckenbauer, speaking to German newspaper Bild at the time of the allegations, accepted responsibility for the DFB’s “mistake” in making the payment to FIFA in April 2005, but strenuously denied the theory that bribes were used to secure any votes.