German World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer and acting UEFA President Ángel María Villar Llona both face being banned from football following investigations by the FIFA Ethics Commission, it was announced today.
Both Beckenbauer, who lifted the World Cup as West Germany captain in 1974 before repeating the feat as a manager in 1990, and Spaniard Villar, a vice-president on FIFA's Executive Committee, had previously been reportedly to under investigation but today’s announcement marks the first time they have been publicly named.
Beckenbauer had previously been implicated in the scandals concerning the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid processes, controversially given to Russia and Qatar respectively, after he allegedly refused to cooperate with the investigations into the two tournaments.
The 70-year-old German, who, as a member of FIFA's ruling Executive Committee, had a vote when the World Cup hosts were decided, was originally banned for 90 days but the world governing body lifted this in June of last year after he agreed to take part in the inquiry.
Villar, President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation since 1988, a period which during Spain have won the 2008 European Championships and 2010 FIFA World Cup, had also been investigated for non cooperation with the Russia and Qatar investigation.
Exact details of the cases being investigated were not revealed but today's news comes just days after corruption allegations surrounding Germany’s bid to host the 2006 World Cup surfaced.
German magazine Der Spiegel claimed the Bid Committee of the German Football Association (DFB) bought votes for the tournament using a €6.7 million (£5 million/$7.6 million) slush fund, with FIFA claiming they would take the accusations “very seriously”.
Beckenbauer, President of the Bid Committee, and current DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach reportedly both knew about the alleged fund, according to the publication, but the pair deny any wrongdoing.
Although a formal investigation has not yet been opened by prosecutors, they have said they have “initiated a monitoring process” over how the competition, won on penalties by Italy, was awarded to Germany.
The announcement comes after the Committee’s vow to increase transparency surrounding the multiple ongoing investigations concerning widespread corruption in world football, though they appeared to go against this pledge after shunning the media following the FIFA Executive Committee meeting yesterday.
The 65-year-old Villar, winner of 22 caps for Spain during a career spent largely with Athletic Bilbao, had been tasked with stepping in as interim head of European football’s governing body UEFA following Michel Platini’s 90-day suspension for involvement in an alleged “disloyal payment” made by current FIFA President Sepp Blatter to the Frenchman of CHF 2 million (£1.3 million/$2.1 million/€1.8 million) for work he carried out for the organisation between 1998 and 2002.
The latest developments marks another embarrassment for FIFA as the Ethics Committee also confirmed that Blatter, who will step down as head of world football's governing body on February 26, Platini and secretary general Jérôme Valcke, the subject of a probe into alleged misuse of expenses, are all targets of the Investigatory Chamber of the body.
A total of 11 officials have been named today, including Football Association of Thailand President Worawi Makudi, already suspended for 90 days, and Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, the former CONCACAF President extradited to the United States following his arrest in Switzerland on racketeering and bribery charges during FIFA’s Congress in Zurich in May.
Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira and Amos Adamu of Nigeria, who has already served a three-year ban from football for seeking money in return for voting on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights, were also named along with Uruguyan Eugenio Figueredo and Nicolás Leoz of Paraguay, both of whom are facing extradition to America as part of the corruption arrests.
All of the officials are being investigated for “suspicion of infringements of the FIFA Code of Ethics”.
"The chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, has welcomed the Executive Committee’s decision, taken yesterday at its extraordinary meeting, to approve the new content of article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which will provide for greater transparency in all future matters dealt with by the Ethics Committee," a FIFA statement read.
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