Germany ‘bought’ 2006 World Cup bid: reports

Media reports on Friday alleged that Germany's bid to host the 2006 World Cup was successful thanks to a slush fund set up by the application committee.

Germany 'bought' 2006 World Cup bid: reports
Franz Beckenbauer (centre) was a key member of the World Cup 2006 application, as was Wolfgang Niersbach (r) now head of the German Football Association (DFB). Photo: DPA

High-ranking members of the application committee including legendary 1974 World Cup-winning captain Franz Beckenbauer – Vice-President of the German Football association (DFB) from 1998 to 2010 – were in on the scheme, according to Der Spiegel.

Current DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach was also involved, Spiegel reported.

More than 10 million Swiss francs – 13 million Deutsche Marks at the time – were lent to the bid committee by then-Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus to bribe four Asian members of the Fifa executive committee ahead of the vote on the 2006 host country in July 2000.

Germany eventually won the bid against South Africa by 12 votes to 11.

The money was allegedly paid back to Louis-Dreyfus by a payment of €6.7 million from the organizing committee to a Fifa account in Geneva, supposedly for a gala in the Berlin Olympic stadium that was later canceled.

In fact, the money was simply transferred to another Swiss account owned by Dreyfus, Spiegel reports.

DFB denies bribery allegations

The DFB said in a press release on Friday that it had itself been investigating the 2006 World Cup bid since a storm of corruption allegations broke over Fifa earlier this year.

“During these checks, the DFB found no evidence of irregularities. Neither was there any evidence that the votes of delegates in relation to the application process were bought,” the statement read.

While there had been a payment from the World Cup organizing committee of €6.7 million to Fifa that may have been used for other purposes than intended, “the payment had nothing to do with the awarding of the World Cup that took place five years before.”

The DFB said it would try to get the money back from Fifa.

Neither Beckenbauer nor other DFB officials allegedly involved in the bribery responded to questions from Der Spiegel by Friday.

Of the three surviving delegates allegedly bribed during the bid process, two did not respond to requests for comment and the last, South Korean Chung Mong-Joon, said the questions were not worth answering.

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.