Swiss launch criminal probe of German football great Beckenbauer
BERLIN: Swiss prosecutors are investigating German football great Franz Beckenbauer after a news report said he was suspected of money laundering and breach of trust in connection with the award of the 2006 World Cup to Germany.
The report by Spiegel Online said the accusations were linked to Beckenbauer's role as head of the organising committee for Germany's successful bid to host the tournament, which is also being investigated by global football body FIFA.
"On behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), I do confirm an ongoing operation regarding the topic you are mentioning," a spokeswoman said.
She said more details were likely to be disclosed later on Thursday.
Beckenbauer, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday, has previously admitted to making mistakes but denied any wrongdoing.
Beckenbauer, 70, was an leading exponent of sweeper role and is regarded as one of the game's finest players.
He captained the West Germany team which won the 1974 World Cup and was coach when they won the title again in 1990. He is also a former member of FIFA's executive committee.
Earlier this year, the German Football Federation (DFB) commissioned a report into alleged irregularities over the awarding of the 2006 World Cup.
The report, published in March, said that, while there was no evidence of Germany paying FIFA members in return for their votes, payments were made to at least one former FIFA official through a web of accounts involving several other firms or individuals, including Beckenbauer.
The World Cup affair, which shocked soccer-mad Germany, was triggered by the payment from the DFB to FIFA, which the DFB said last year was the return of a loan via the ruling body from the late Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
FIFA's ethics committee announced in March that it was investigating six people, including Beckenbauer, over the award.
In Beckenbauer's case, these include "possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup host selection and the associated funding".
FIFA said this could have breached several articles of its code of ethics including ones on bribery and corruption, which can carry a lifelong ban from involvement in the sport.
In July, former DFB head Wolfgang Niersbach was given a one-year ban after he "failed to report findings about possible misconduct concerning the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup".