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Jun 11, 2014

Beckenbauer: I have nothing to hide

FIFA president Sepp Blatter hit out at corruption claims against the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, describing them as "racist."

Franz Beckenbauer has insisted he has nothing to hide over alleged corruption in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 tournament to Russia.

- More sponsors voice Qatar concerns
Blatter accuses critics of racism
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Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a player and a coach with West Germany, spoke out after German media reports alleged he has been reluctant to speak to FIFA's chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia about his part in the hosting votes in 2010.

At the time, he was a member of the 22-strong FIFA executive committee. Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that he had not yet disclosed whether he voted for Qatar, while Die Welt said Garcia had contacted him twice and alleged he had declined to cooperate with the investigation.

Earlier this month, a Sunday Times report on possible corruption during the bidding process for 2022 mentioned Beckenbauer's name in connection with the controversy for the first time. The paper said he had been in Qatar on business duties both ahead of and after the vote.

According to a recent report in Der Spiegel, he was instructed to vote for Australia as 2022 hosts as part of an agreement between the DFB and Australia after the Australians dropped out of the race for the 2011 Women's World Cup, which was then awarded to Germany.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter also claimed he voted for Australia -- but the nation received only one vote and was eliminated in the first round. "One of them must have lied," Der Spiegel claimed.

Beckenbauer told Bild: "There is still the secrecy of ballot, and that applies to me. All I can say is that the international circle of the DFB [German FA], with Theo Zwanziger at the top, had given me a recommendation.

"People with memories might recall that I said after the vote that I was surprised by Qatar winning, and that I was one of the first to position myself by saying a summer World Cup will be impossible and you can only play in the winter. That's what I also told the Emir of Qatar personally, long before the vote."

That was in 2009, when Beckenbauer made his first trip to the Gulf State at the invitation of former FIFA executive member Mohamed bin Hammam, and he said: "The Emir was not pleased to hear my objections."

However, he has not responded to Garcia, who is compiling a report into possible corruption in the bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

The document is expected to be released soon after the World Cup, and Beckenbauer's reluctance to answer questions could lead to punishment.

He has said he received questions from Garcia in English and was not able to fully understand them. "I asked them politely for an interview in German, but that was rejected. My reaction was: 'OK, let's leave it then,'" he added.

He added that learning of potential sanctions had surprised him, explaining: "I only have an adviser status at FIFA. I am no longer a member of the committee, and thus I am not obliged to talk to Mr Garcia.

"But I have nothing to hide, and I am of the opinion that, in the case that corruption is established as a fact, there have to be consequences for those responsible.

"To be honest, I don't get all the fuss about me. I have said more than once that I am not the one to talk to about the corruption issue, and now I only want to look forward to the World Cup in Brazil."

Speaking about the awarding of the 2018 tournament to Russia, Beckenbauer rejected claims that he could have been influenced by business associations.

In 2012, he was named sports ambassador for gas company Gazprom, in which the Russian government has a majority stake. At that point, the company had strong ties with Germany as the main sponsor for Schalke 04.

But speaking to Bild on Wednesday, Beckenbauer said he had no business ties with Gazprom.

"I don't have any contract with Gazprom, but my management has one with the Russian Gas Society," he said. The Russian Gas Society is a non-profit partnership of oil and gas industry companies of which Gazprom is a member.

"That [the Russian Gas Society contract] had nothing to do with the awarding process -- I didn't even know the people back then. The discussion is nonsense. By the way, for 2018 there was also a recommendation from the international circle of the DFB," he added.

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