Beckenbauer probe puts WC votes under scrutiny
As the number of World Cup voters publicly accused of wrongdoing reached 17, German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer and FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar are waiting to discover if they will be found guilty of obstructing the investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
Five years after the 2018 tournament was awarded to Russia and the Middle East was given its first World Cup in Qatar in 2022, the shockwaves from the landmark dual decision by a much-discredited FIFA executive committee still reverberate throughout the soccer world.
Although the Russian and Qatari successes, along with the conduct of rival bids, have been tainted by five years of allegations, FIFA's ethics judge ruled last year there was not enough evidence to prove that the decisions were corrupt. But the contests remain subject to a criminal investigation in Switzerland where the attorney general is examining if there was financial wrongdoing, including money laundering.
Two members of FIFA's 24-man executive committee were suspended even before the 2010 vote after being caught in newspaper stings. Eight voters have since been banned or suspended from duty following ethics investigations.
Two voters, including acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou, were linked to bribes in a British parliamentary hearing, and three others have been implicated in investigations or media reports.
Hayatou has denied any wrongdoing.
Both Beckenbauer and Villar now serving as FIFA's No. 2 official while President Sepp Blatter is suspended have been investigated by ethics prosecutors and are awaiting verdicts in their cases.
The two men would face sanctions if found guilty of obstructing then-FIFA prosecutor Garcia's investigation, ethics committee spokesman Marc Tenbuecken told The Associated Press.
Beckenbauer and Villar have previously been identified by media as targets of the bidding investigation but were only publicly named yesterday after FIFA's executive committee agreed to lift strict secrecy rules it imposed on the ethics committee in 2012.