Sepp Blatter has been summoned to explain how Germany was awarded the 2006 World Cup as prosecutors in Switzerland investigate suspected corruption in the bidding process, the disgraced former FIFA supremo told AFP on Thursday.
Swiss authorities are targeting Franz Beckenbauer, former captain and coach of the German World Cup winning sides, who was president of the German 2006 bid, with a suspect 6.7 million euros ($7.5M) payment at the heart of the investigation.
“Via my lawyer, I got a call up on February 8 to a meeting with the Berne public prosecutor as a person of interest in the attributing of the 2006 World Cup to Germany,” Blatter told AFP.
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Currently serving a six-year ban from football-related activity Blatter will meet the Berne prosecutor, who has been working on the case for two years, on March 28.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been called up in relation to this matter,” said Blatter, who will have turned 83 by the time of the meeting.
“The general secretary (of FIFA) at the time was Urs Linsi, and he maintains I gave him specific guidelines, which I contest,” said Blatter.
The scandal first came to light in October 2015, when news magazine Der Spiegel accused Germany of having used a secret slush fund to buy votes in support of its bid to host the 2006 World Cup.
The fund reportedly held 10 million Swiss francs, or 6.7 million euros according to the exchange rate at the time.
The money was allegedly provided by the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, head of German sportswear giant Adidas, at the request of Beckenbauer, who headed the committee promoting Germany’s candidacy.
Beckenbauer, now 72, captained Germany to the 1974 World Cup and coached the side that won the trophy in Italy in 1990.
The cash-for-votes scandal has hung over German footfall since October 2015 when German magazine Der Spiegel revealed the secret fund.