2006 World Cup: German prosecutors could investigate slush fund allegation

FRANKFURT, Germany -- German prosecutors are examining whether there are grounds to open an investigation of allegations that German bidders used a slush fund to help secure the 2006 World Cup.

Nadja Niesen, a spokeswoman for Frankfurt prosecutors, said fraud, breach of trust or corruption were possible offences that might be investigated, news agency dpa reported.

"We have initiated a monitoring process," she said.

Niesen could not say when the examination of whether there is a case will be concluded.

German weekly Der Spiegel alleged on Friday that a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6m at that time) was set up to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on FIFA's executive committee.

The German football federation (DFB) vehemently rejects the allegations. Bid committee chief Franz Beckenbauer says he never had money given to anyone to buy votes.

Franz Beckenbauer, who led the organising committee for the 2006 tournament, in which Germany reached the semifinals, was reported as saying: "I never gave money to anyone in order to acquire votes so that Germany is awarded the 2006 World Cup.

"I am certain that no other member of the bid committee did something like that."

Spiegel alleged that both Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Niersbach, the president of the DFB who was then vice president of the organising committee, were aware of the existence of the fund.

Niersbach said he had asked his lawyers to begin legal action over the claims.

Speaking at the opening of the DFB football museum in Dortmund on Monday, he said the association will "refute" the Der Spiegel claims and begin "legal press action" against the magazine.

"The 2006 World Cup was a summer fairytale, and is a summer fairytale," he said in quotes reported by SID. "The summer fairytale has not been destroyed. There have been no slush funds, and no votes were bought."

Niersbach did not take any questions after his brief statement.

He confirmed that a "renowned business law firm" had been tasked with looking at the payment made in 2006.

ESPN FC's Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld contributed to this report