NEWS
10/22/2015 10:04 EDT | Updated 10/22/2016 01:12 EDT

German federation president: 'Everything was done with honest means' in World Cup bid

FRANKFURT — Germany's football federation president again strongly denied any vote-buying in the winning bid to host the 2006 World Cup, saying Thursday that "everything was done with honest means."

Wolfgang Niersbach said a payment to FIFA first reported by the weekly Der Spiegel last week was privately arranged to secure a FIFA grant to the German World Cup organizers.

The deal was made during a private meeting between FIFA President Sepp Blatter and World Cup organizing committee chief Franz Beckenbauer in January 2002, Niersbach said. The meeting came two years after Germany had been awarded the World Cup by one vote in 2000.

Der Spiegel reported Friday that a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6 million at that time) was set up to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA executive committee.

At a hastily organized news conference Thursday, Niersbach repeated that Germany had done nothing wrong in bidding for the 2006 World Cup.

"The key message is that everything was done with honest means for the 2006 World Cup bid. There were no slush funds, no vote-buying," said Niersbach, who had denied the Spiegel allegations already on Monday.

Niersbach said he visited Beckenbauer at his Austrian residence on Tuesday and learned about the deal reached between him and Blatter.

FIFA was ready to finance the organizers to the tune of 250 million Swiss francs (about 230 million euros at current rates) in return for a payment of 10 million Swiss francs, Niersbach said.

Beckenbauer was ready to use his personal funds to secure the grant but was told by his advisers not to do so and the money was finally given to FIFA's financial committee by French businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who was boss of the Adidas sporting goods company at the time, according to Niersbach. Dreyfus died in 2009.

The German World Cup organizing committee paid the money back through FIFA in early 2005, Niersbach said. The sum had been earmarked for an opening gala that had been cancelled.

Niersbach said the grant was not part of the World Cup contract between FIFA and Germany and that the organizing committee was still lacking funds at the time.

He said the German federation (DFB) was aware that FIFA had given financial help to the co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup, Japan and South Korea, and wanted the same for the 2006 tournament.

Niersbach could not clarify why a wealthy federation like DFB did not take out a bank credit if it needed funds for the work of the organizing committee.

Nesha Starcevic, The Associated Press