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article imageFive key figures in Germany's World Cup scandal

By Ryland James (AFP)     Nov 3, 2015 in Sports

Police on Tuesday swooped on the headquarters of the German Football Federation (DFB) and homes of top officials over tax evasion allegations surrounding an alleged 6.7 million euro payment to FIFA in relation to the 2006 World Cup.

The scandal engulfing German football erupted after magazine Spiegel last month claimed that the sum was to bribe four FIFA executive committee members to secure the right to host the cup.

Germany's top football officials, including DFB chief Wolfgang Niersbach, have denied the allegations.

Prosecutors said they are now focusing on tax evasion allegations and were unable to pursue corruption claims as they have run into the statute of limitations.

Here are the five key figures embroiled in the scandal and their stance on the claims:

WOLFGANG NIERSBACH

The 64-year-old became DFB president in March 2012 having previously worked as the body's media director and general secretary.

Wolfgang Niersbach  President of the German Football Federation (DFB)  stands behind the football of...
Wolfgang Niersbach, President of the German Football Federation (DFB), stands behind the football of the 1954 final World Cup match during his visit at the new German Football Museum in Dortmund on October 19, 2015
Patrik Stollarz, AFP/File

Niersbach has vehemently denied allegations that money was used to buy votes to secure the right to host the 2006 World Cup.

While he does not deny the payment, made in 2002, of 10.3 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros) to FIFA, he insists it was in order to secure a 170-million-euro subsidy from football's governing body for the organisation of the tournament.

"There was no slush fund, there was no vote buying," he has insisted, adding that he has only been aware of the issue since June.

THEO ZWANZIGER

The 70-year-old trained lawyer was DFB president at the time of World Cup in question, before being replaced by Niersbach in 2012. He had also been deputy chief of the 2006 World Cup's organising committee.

He has insisted there was a slush fund to buy votes for the 2006 bid and has accused Niersbach of lying.

Theo Zwanziger was DFB president when Germany held the World Cup and insists there was a slush fund ...
Theo Zwanziger was DFB president when Germany held the World Cup and insists there was a slush fund to buy votes for the 2006 bid
Sebastien Bozon, AFP/File

"It is clear that there was a slush fund in the German World Cup bidding process," he told Spiegel magazine in an interview.

"It is also clear that the current DFB president (Wolfgang Niersbach) knew of this already in 2005, and not only a few weeks ago as he claimed," Zwanziger added.

"The way I see it, Niersbach is lying."

Zwanziger says he has proof to back up his allegations.

HORST SCHMIDT

Schmidt was general secretary of the DFB until 2007, also serving from 2001-2006 as executive vice-president of Germany's World Cup committee for the organisation of the final.

Horst Schmidt was executive vice president of the Germany's World Cup committee from 2001-2006
Horst Schmidt was executive vice president of the Germany's World Cup committee from 2001-2006
John Macdougall, AFP/File

Zwanziger has stated there was a phone conversation between him and Schmidt, where the latter said the disgraced former FIFA vice president Mohamed Bin Hammam had received millions from the alleged slush fund.

"It is outrageous that Theo Zwanziger has made public the contents of a private telephone conversation," Schmidt has said.

"The name Bin Hamman may have come up, but I would not say that he was the recipient of the money. I simply don't know that."

FRANZ BECKENBAUER

"The Kaiser" captained Germany to the 1974 World Cup title and coached "Die Mannschaft" to their 1990 triumph in Italy.

Franz Beckenbauer was head of Germany's organising committee for the 2006 World Cup and strenuo...
Franz Beckenbauer was head of Germany's organising committee for the 2006 World Cup and strenuously denies any votes to win the bid were bought
Pascal Pavani, AFP/File

The 70-year-old was head of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup having successfully led the bid to bring the tournament to Germany.

Like Niersbach, Beckenbauer has strenuously denied any votes were bought, but has admitted making a "mistake".

"In order to obtain a FIFA grant, we accepted a proposition coming from FIFA's finance commission that the implicated parties should, in retrospect, have refused," said the 'Kaiser'.

"As president of the organising committee at that time, I take responsibility for this mistake."

Separately, Beckenbauer has also been investigated by FIFA, although the football governing body has not specified why.

GUENTER NETZER

Former German footballer Guenter Netzer and his wife Elvira arrive for a premiere screening of a doc...
Former German footballer Guenter Netzer and his wife Elvira arrive for a premiere screening of a documentary 'Die Mannschaft' (The Team) on November 10, 2014 in Berlin
John Macdougall, AFP/File

The 71-year-old former West Germany midfielder was an ambassador for the 2006 World Cup and has taken legal action to prevent Zwanziger from making further comments about him.

Zwanziger claims it was Netzer who first told him that the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA executive committee were bought, which Netzer denies.

Netzer's wife was said to be sitting at the same table when the conversation took place in 2012.

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