German FA chief Wolfgang Niersbach resigns amid 2006 scandal
German Football Association president Wolfgang Niersbach has resigned in the wake of the 2006 World Cup scandal.
Niersbach told reporters after an emergency meeting of the federation that he's taking "political responsibility" for the affair, although added: "I have absolutely nothing to reproach myself for."
The organisation's headquarters and DFB president Niersbach's private property were raided by dozens of tax investigators and members of the Frankfurt prosecution service last week over alleged tax fraud concerning a 2002 payment to FIFA for €6.7 million.
Prosecutors in Frankfurt had been weighing whether to press charges against members of the 2006 World Cup organising committee following slush-fund allegations first published by German news weekly Der Spiegel in mid-October.
They reported last month that the German World Cup bid committee had set up a slush fund to secure the votes of the four Asian members of the FIFA Executive Committee for the right to host the 2006 tournament.
Niersbach has denied the claims and insisted that the €6.7m, which allegedly was paid to FIFA in 2002 by the late former adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus, was used to release a grant of €170m for the organisation of the tournament.
Frankfurt prosecutors say the payment was falsely declared to evade taxes.
Niersbach, who has been the president of the federation since 2012, is also a member of the executive committee of both FIFA and UEFA.
"I was involved in the bid for the 2006 World Cup from day one until the final documentation of the summer fairy tale was submitted," Niersbach wrote in a statement published on the DFB website.
"In all of those years, I not only always worked with great passion, but also always cleanly, faithfully and correctly.
"In the areas of marketing, media, accreditations, and event organisation, which I worked in, I can say with a clean conscience that I have absolutely nothing to reproach myself for.
"It makes it all the more depressing and painful for me to be faced with things nine years later that I was not involved in, and which have left many questions open for me.
"I remain and would like to make it clear unmistakably once again that I had absolutely no knowledge of the background of the flow of payments that are being looked into.
"It makes it even harder for me to make the decision to draw political consequences. 27 years at the DFB were always more than a job for me. The work in a variety of roles was something very dear to my heart.
"I love football and this association, in which I have experienced some wonderful moments and been able to work with some amazing people.
"In order to protect this DFB and the office, it is with a heavy heart that I am resigning as DFB president. At the same time, I will continue to do all I can for a comprehensive clarification of what has happened."
Rainer Koch and Reinhard Rauball, two DFB vice presidents, will jointly take over in a caretaker position and said they wanted Niersbach to continue working in the international bodies. The board had no power to dismiss Niersbach, who stressed that the resignation was a personal decision.
"Things have surfaced in the past few days that lead me to resign, in the sense of political responsibility,'' Niersbach said, without giving details.
Speaking after Niersbach's resignation, Koch said a law firm hired by the DFB to look into the affair had singled out a number of points that need further clarification.
"They give us cause to say that we'll have to look very closely into the circumstances of how the 2006 World Cup was awarded," Koch said without giving details.