German scandal does not affect national team: Bierhoff

MUNICH: A 2006 World Cup scandal that has thrown German football into turmoil will not affect the national team as they prepare for internationals against heavyweights France and Netherlands, team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Tuesday.

On Monday, German FA (DFB) chief Wolfgang Niersbach resigned, buckling under the weight of unanswered questions over a controversial payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.19 million) to world football's governing body FIFA in 2005.

Der Spiegel magazine alleged last month the money was used to bribe FIFA members and award Germany the 2006 World Cup.

While Niersbach, a vice president of the 2006 World Cup, denied any wrongdoing he could not answer why the payment was made.

Pressure has now increased on Franz Beckenbauer, the World Cup-winning player and coach who headed the 2006 organising committee, to provide answers.

"These have been an intense three weeks for all at the DFB, for the whole of football in Germany," former international Bierhoff told a news conference.

"Niersbach was very close to the national team, especially close to players and staff. There is a lot of sympathy for him.

"(Interim presidents) Rainer Koch and Reinhard Rauball are known faces among the team. The mechanisms work, they have been for a decade, and it does not affect us for the games," added Bierhoff.

"It is necessary to close this process at some point and look forward. The players are professionals and they can deal with it."

The world champions play France in Paris on Friday and Netherlands in Hanover on Nov. 17.

The scandal has left Niersbach and two other former World Cup organising committee members under investigation for possible tax evasion but Bierhoff promised the players would try to restore some lost pride with hard work on the pitch.

"This is news the football fan sees as negative and we have to be careful to remain humble despite a decade of riding this successful wave in our sport. We have to protect this success and the beauty of the sport and that is our work," he said.

"We have to do it with good performances. We have work to do given it looks the Hanover game will not have a sell-out crowd partly because of this. We now need to pull up our sleeves and get to work."

Germany have qualified for Euro 2016 in France.