It is a case of “Can open, worms everywhere” at the Deutsche Fußball Bund (DFB) right now in the wake of the 2006 World Cup supposed bribery affair. President Wolfgang Niersbach resigned from his post on Monday, but even this move far from spells the end of the sorry affair for German football’s ruling body.
The sordid tale began when der Spiegel broke the story of the so-called slush fund of some €6.7 million used, if reports are to be believed, to provide bribes in return for votes in the World Cup 2006 bidding (as reported by the Bundesliga Fanatic back in October).
DFB President Niersbach has continually denied any wrong-doing, but the pressure has been building over the past few weeks culminating in his resignation on Monday.
However, even in standing down the DFB chief denied any admission of guilt saying: “In order to protect the DFB and the position, I step down as DFB president with a heavy heart. I decided to resign because I realised I had to take the political responsibility.
“I was there from the first day of the bid for the 2006 World Cup until the end … and in all these years I worked not only in a clean way but also with passion and trust.
“That makes it even more depressing and painful to be confronted years later with processes I had nothing to do with. I want to make it clear once more that I was not aware of the payments in question. That’s what makes the decision to suffer the political consequence so much harder.”
What’s the phrase I’m looking for?
Oh yes, ‘No smoke without fire’, or is it ‘the gentleman doth protest too much’?
Has Niersbach fallen on his sword in act of gallantry or is it case of being caught with your fingers well and truly covered in honey and the honey pot open and your prints all over it? “It wasn’t me Guv, Winnie the Pooh did it” is not an excuse that will wash quite frankly.
If the DFB think the axe falling on their chief will spell the end of their troubles, then they are in for a rude awakening. Niersbach has denied all knowledge of any underhand dealings and claimed to know nothing about the €6.7 million in question, but his handwriting on key documents shines a rather more revealing light on the matter.
Questions remain as to what the real purpose of the money was, and the German tax authorities will be going over the DFB accounting with a fine tooth comb. The roles played by Franz Beckenbauer, former DFB president Theo Zwanziger and former General Secretary Horst Schmidt also need to be clarified before the stench of corruption can be cleared from the corridors of power in German football.
To many keen football observers the claims of bribery and corruption that have hung over FIFA over the past few years, and more recently in the voting processes that led to the awarding of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar, were not really that much of a surprise. But to have the Sommermärchen of 2006 tarnished by these allegations has come as quite a shock.
So the King is dead, but who will be the one to step into the breach. Well, one early front-runner has already ruled himself out with Oliver Bierhoff seemingly not interested: “I do not want to talk about what will now come next as it is not an issue of the national team.
“And of course I notice that, people talk to me about it – the presidential office is not an issue for me. I have to prepare the national team for a European Championship.
“I have respect for Niersbach, also for taking the political responsibility in that case. I don’t want to say anything about causes or reasons [for his resignation].
“Despite this bad news for us, I think it is a good sign for the public to show transparency. There is nothing which is held back and everyone is open about it to get things going”.
DFB vice-president Rainer Koch could be a potential successor, while Borussia Dortmund chief Reinhard Rauball has also had his name mentioned. Whoever takes over will face the job of clearing the DFB’s reputation and ensuring that transparency is the new watch word.
Germany’s footballing reputation was at its pinnacle following the triumph at the last World Cup in Brazil. Sadly though the weiße Weste of the country’s footballing hierarchy has been besmirched by the current allegations. The president has gone, could the Kaiser be the next to find himself in the unwanted spotlight?
Sommermärchen? More like a horror story or a tragedy.
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