DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach has resigned from his post today. While he’s maintained his and his organization’s innocence amid allegations that German soccer officials bought votes in order to win World Cup hosting rights in 2006, Niersbach has decided to take “political responsibility” for the controversy.
A refresher if you’ve missed the story so far: German paper Der Spiegel came out with information a few weeks ago detailing some curious money transactions on the part of the DFB. Spiegel reported that sometime in 2000, Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus gave a secret €6.7 million loan to the German World Cup Organizing Committee tasked with presenting Germany’s bid to FIFA, and the money was allegedly used to secure the votes of four FIFA executive committee members. A few years later, Louis-Dreyfus requested repayment on that loan. The DFB complied with this, along with help from FIFA, by inventing a sham banquet that was canceled before it was held. The real purpose of the gala, Spiegel’s report claims, was to launder the money from the DFB to FIFA and ultimately back to Louis-Dreyfus.
After news broke of that report, Niersbach has been staunch in his defense of the DFB. He was not president at the time of the original loan but was when it was allegedly repaid. Niersbach disavowed any knowledge of the loan until very recently, stated conclusively that it had in no way been used to buy FIFA ex. co. votes, and that while the money surrounding the gala, which did show up on the DFB’s books, was peculiar, he promised to get to the bottom of it.
As we’ve laid out before, Niersbach’s version of events doesn’t hold water. On top of the obvious deficiencies of the official story, Spiegel has since presented evidence of what appears to be Niersbach’s handwriting on a document from 2004 paying for the gala. From his writing, you can infer that he both knew about the money and that it was ultimately destined for, as his handwriting puts it, “H.L.D.” (or Herr Louis-Dreyfus). This directly contradicts his stated ignorance. And not only that, last week German police raided DFB offices as well as Niersbach’s and other officials’ homes on suspicion that they had failed to pay the proper taxes for the €6.7 million.
FIFA, funnily enough, also have sensed some shenanigans going on and have opened their own investigation. That adds up to soccer’s notoriously corrupt governing body, German soccer’s apparently corrupt governing body, and the German police trying to figure out exactly what happened there. So we probably will never know for sure.
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