Swiss open 2006 World Cup criminal case against Beckenbauer

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September 02, 2016
n this March 6, 2006 file photo German soccer legend and head of the organizing committee Franz Beckenbauer talks to Wolfgang Niersbach during the FIFA Team-Workshop in Duesseldorf, western Germany.

ZURICH (AP):

Soccer great Franz Beckenbauer is a criminal suspect in a World Cup fraud case.

Beckenbauer's home in Austria was raided for evidence yesterday on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA. Switzerland's attorney general's office said they had opened criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organising committee.

The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of €6.7 million (US$7.3 million) to FIFA in 2005.

"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 lawyers said he is cooperating with "all authorities involved".

"Franz Beckenbauer has supported the Swiss federal prosecutors' investigations since he has known about them and co-operated constructively in today's search," lawyers Werner Leitner and Michael Nesselhauf said in a statement reported by German news agency dpa.

Three of the suspects are past or current members of FIFA' ruling committee: Beckenbauer, Theo Zwanziger, and Wolfgang Niersbach.

BANNED

Niersbach, whose term expires in 2019, was banned for one year by the FIFA ethics committee in July for not reporting suspected wrongdoing.

The fourth criminal suspect is Horst Schmidt, vice-president of the 2006 organising committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger, and Schmidt have also been under investigation for suspected bribery by the FIFA ethics committee for several months.

Beckenbauer headed his country's bid to win the hosting rights in 2000 in a vote of the FIFA executive committee. Germany won 12-11 in a final-round vote against a South Africa bid backed by Nelson Mandela.

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