Beckenbauer and former president of Adidas are accused of suspicious payments in the 2006 World Cup – 03/05/2024 – Sports

Beckenbauer and former president of Adidas are accused of suspicious payments in the 2006 World Cup – 03/05/2024 – Sports

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German football authorities wrongly claimed tax relief over suspicious payments involving Franz Beckenbauer and a Qatari who helped decide the 2006 World Cup host country, prosecutors told a court in Frankfurt on Monday.

The tax case against three former senior football officials has reopened the controversy over how Germany, more than two decades ago, secured FIFA’s (International Football Federation) support to host a tournament known as Sommermärchen, or summer fairy tale. .

The trial, which is the result of years of investigations, revolves around payments involving the late football star Beckenbauer, the late former Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus, a former FIFA official from Qatar, Mohammed bin Hammam, and the German football association.

Instead of focusing on possible corruption, prosecutors brought more specific charges of aggravated tax evasion against the former presidents of the German football association [DFB] Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, as well as former treasurer Horst Schmidt.

If found guilty, they could face up to ten years in prison. Lawyers for the three argued that the accusations were unfounded.

“The World Cup was not purchased and there were no illegal funds,” said Tilman Reichling, Schmidt’s lawyer. Hans-Jörg Metz, Zwanziger’s lawyer, accused prosecutors of conducting a biased investigation where “persecuting celebrities appears to have been more important than uncovering the truth.”

Prosecutors outlined on Monday that Beckenbauer, a celebrated defender who won the World Cup for Germany as both a player and coach in 2002, took out a private loan of 10 million Swiss francs from the businessman. French Louis-Dreyfus.

The money was then transferred to a Qatar-based company that was owned by a FIFA official who voted for the host nation’s selection at the 2006 World Cup, which Germany won in 2000 with a one-vote majority.

Three years later, the DFB repaid the loan to Dreyfus in Beckenbauer’s name, channeling the 6.7 million euros (R$36 million) through FIFA to mask the true nature of the transaction, prosecutors told the court.

The suspicious payments, which were discovered almost a decade later, triggered corruption investigations at the DFB, FIFA and a Swiss criminal court, which ended inconclusive.

Beckenbauer, who died in January aged 78, always denied any wrongdoing.

In their investigation, Frankfurt prosecutors focused on the tax implications of the DFB’s payment to Dreyfus, arguing that the football association improperly treated the payment as a business expense and therefore illegally claimed tax relief on it.

They allege that the DFB conspired with a FIFA official to conceal that the football association was covering Beckenbauer’s private debt by transferring the money through FIFA, which transferred it to Dreyfus.

The DFB’s payment to FIFA was officially linked to a gala night, which would be held during the World Cup in Germany. However, that event never occurred, and FIFA transferred the 6.7 million euros to Dreyfus within a day, the prosecution argued on Monday.

FIFA closed an investigation into the matter in 2021 because the statute of limitations for initiating legal proceedings had expired.

An investigation by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2016 on behalf of the DFB concluded that the football association deliberately masked that it was repaying a private loan from Beckenbauer. But it found no evidence that the money was used to buy support for Germany’s World Cup bid. The trial in Frankfurt continues.

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