Pressure on Franz Beckenbauer (above) to explain payments and provide answers over a 2006 World Cup scandal grew yesterday, a day after the president of Germany's FA (DFB) resigned despite insisting he had done nothing wrong. Wolfgang Niersbach, who was a vice president of Germany's World Cup organizers, said he was taking political responsibility for a controversial 6.7 million euro ($7.22 million) payment to FIFA allegedly used to bribe officials of world football's governing body to vote for Germany's World Cup hosting bid. Following Monday's surprise resignation of Niersbach the spotlight has now shifted to Beckenbauer, who was the head of the 2006 organising committee. Rainer Koch, who along with fellow DFB vice president Reinhard Rauball has taken over Niersbach's position on an interim basis, said "it is high time" Beckenbauer gets more involved in trying to resolve the issue.
Niersbach, along with two other former World Cup organising committee colleagues, is under investigation for tax evasion related to the payment after police raided the DFB and his home last week. Beckenbauer was not suspected of tax evasion and was not part of the Frankfurt prosecutor's office probe, officials have said. Former World Cup winning captain and coach Beckenbauer - the country's most iconic footballer - has admitted to facilitating the payment to FIFA which was allegedly a return on a loan in 2000 for German organisers from then Adidas CEO Robert-Louis Dreyfus. He has since said that, in hindsight, this was a "mistake" but added that claims of a votes-for-cash deal were untrue. At the heart of the investigation is the 6.7 million euros payment from the German FA to FIFA that Der Spiegel magazine claimed was a return on a loan from Louis-Dreyfus to help buy votes for Germany's World Cup bid at the FIFA election in 2000. The magazine's report in October had claimed a slush fund had been set up with Louis-Dreyfus' support to buy votes for Germany's World Cup bid.