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German football federation opens legal case against Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer is under investigation for his actions in securing the 2006 World Cup.

BERLIN -- The German football federation opened legal proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer, former members, and FIFA in a bid to limit potential damages arising from the 2006 World Cup corruption affair.

The DFB told The Associated Press in a statement on Friday that it has "taken the necessary measures to prevent a possible limitation of claims" that it can make against former head of the German World Cup organizing committee Beckenbauer and his then vice-president Fedor Radmann, former DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, former DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt, the executors of the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus' estate, together with FIFA.

"To safeguard the [DFB's] rights, applications were lodged" with a conciliatory body in Hamburg, the German federation said.

Central to the affair is a suspect payment made to FIFA by the DFB before the 2006 World Cup was awarded.

The DFB previously said the money was a loan of 10 million Swiss francs -- the equivalent of €6.7 million -- from then-Adidas boss Dreyfus, paid to FIFA in 2002 to obtain a much larger grant for the World Cup organizing committee. The DFB later repaid Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

Niersbach, who resigned as DFB president on Nov. 9, said the payment had been arranged personally between Beckenbauer, who was leading the bid, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Blatter, now suspended, and FIFA have denied any knowledge of it.

The questionable circumstances behind the initial payment prompted an ongoing tax evasion probe by German authorities against Zwanziger, Niersbach and Schmidt.

The DFB has tasked law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer with an internal investigation of the bribery allegations first made by German weekly Der Spiegel on Oct. 16.

Der Spiegel alleged that German bidders used a slush fund to buy four Asian votes, an allegation subsequently repeated by Zwanziger.

Freshfields is due to publish its findings on March 4.

Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a captain and as a coach of West Germany, has denied any vote buying. He told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper last November "we didn't have any money."

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