Former German Football Association (DFB) President Wolfgang Niersbach has vowed to fight a possible two-year ban from the sport after a recommendation today by the Adjudicatory Chamber of FIFA's independent Ethics Committee.
This follows an investigation after German magazine Der Spiegel claimed last year that a slush fund of €6.7 million (£5 million/$7.6 million) was set up in order to bribe members of FIFA’s ruling Executive Committee in the 2006 World Cup bid race.
Niersbach, who was elected to the UEFA and FIFA Executive Committees in 2015, was executive vice-president of Germany’s Organising Committee for the 2006 World Cup.
He resigned from his DFB post due to the allegations.
A tax evasion investigation was opened by German authorities, while the FIFA panel began examining in march a "possible failure to report a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics".
Ethics chief Cornel Borbely passed on his report to the Adjudicatory Chamber, which has now decided to proceed with “formal adjudicatory proceedings against Mr Niersbach”.
Niersbach, who claims the payment was part of a FIFA financing deal to unlock a World Cup staging costs grant, can now ask for a hearing and submit his own evidence.
"It's a matter of honour and defence of my rights to oppose this request with all possible legal means," he told German news agency SID, where he once worked as a journalist.
"The penalty is incomprehensible - especially when compared to other cases where the Ethics Commission has not made such harsh judgements in cases of personal advantage and corruption.
"In my case, the charge is based solely on the fact that I did not speak soon enough about things related to the 2006 World Cup."
Borbely has called for a two-year ban and a fine of CHF 30,000 (£21,000/$30,000/€27,000) fine for breaches of four articles of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
An investigation is ongoing into four others - including former Organising Committee head and German football legend Franz Bechenbauer - for "possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 World Cup host selection".
The German bid defeated South Africa by a narrow margin of 12 votes to 11 in an election in 2000 already considered controversial after New Zealand's Charlie Dempsey abstained from the second round of voting after stating there had been "intolerable pressure" prior to the ballot.
“UEFA has taken note of the opening of proceedings by the FIFA Ethics Committee against Mr Niersbach and will closely follow developments in this respect," the continental body added in a statement.
"There are no further comments to be made at this stage of the proceedings."