FIFA is the corruption gift that keeps on giving, and now one of the game’s most recognizable faces on and off the pitch is at the center of a new criminal probe by Swiss officials.
According to an Associated Press report, German legend Franz Beckenbauer had his Austrian house raided by police looking for evidence in a corruption scandal leading back to FIFA itself. Swiss officials made it known that they were opening criminal cases against Beckenbauer and three other German officials relating to the 2006 World Cup that was played in Germany.
“Searches of premises or searches on a cooperative basis for the collection of evidence were carried out in eight separate locations (in Austria and Germany) at the same time today,” the Swiss federal prosecution office said in a statement. “In addition, various suspects were questioned by or on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.”
Beckenbauer’s name has long been the subject of rumors about potential bribery much like those of other high-ranking FIFA members. According to his attorneys, Beckenbauer has been fully cooperative in the matter and in the raid that happened today.
As for the other officials, not surprisingly they are also other former high-ranking FIFA officials including two other former member of the FIFA ruling committee — Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach.
The final suspect in the matter is Beckenbauer’s right hand man in the 2006 World Cup organizing committee, Horst Schmidt. As for the allegations, the Swiss prosecutors wouldn’t go in to great detail, only to say that it had to do with misleading organizers.
“It is suspected that the suspects willfully misled their fellow members of the executive board of the organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup,” the Swiss prosecution office said. “This was presumably done by the use of false pretenses or concealment of the truth, thus inducing the other committee members to act in a manner that caused (the German soccer federation) a financial loss.”
Financial trails have been winding ever since investigators opened up the probe quietly back in October of last year. In fact, the biggest trail has been in reference to payments of $7.3 million and $10 million being investigated by German and Swiss authorities.
It appears Beckenbauer, long considered one of the game’s greatest ambassadors was actually just one of “the boys” within FIFA’s corrupt and glad-handing ruling class. He has been under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee (still an oxymoron, right?) since earlier this year as well.
What remains to be seen is if Beckenbauer or anyone else will actually pay for the crimes they are alleged to have committed, or if any of them begin to really turn the screws on former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter either.