DFB chief denies 2006 World Cup votes were bought at news conference

Germany did not buy votes to secure the 2006 World Cup, German football federation (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach has said in a news conference.

On Friday, Der Spiegel reported that Germany secured the right to host the tournament with the help of a €6.7 million slush fund used to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA Executive Committee.

The DFB has already strongly denied the claims and last week vowed to take legal action against the news weekly.

On Thursday -- one day before the publication of Der Spiegel's next issue -- the DFB called a surprise news conference at its headquarters in Frankfurt, where Niersbach again denied the allegations.

"The World Cup was not bought," he told the reporters. "The summer fairy tale remains a summer fairy tale.

"It's just not true that we got this wonderful World Cup the dishonest way."

Der Spiegel said last week that it had documents detailing the €6.7m fund, which it said was set up using money provided by former Adidas chief executive Robert Louis-Dreyfus, acting in a private capacity.

The magazine claimed the money was later re-paid to Dreyfus in 2005 using FIFA as cover -- the German World Cup organising committee made a €6.7m contribution for a gala opening ceremony at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, which was later cancelled.

It said the money was paid into a FIFA bank account in Geneva and from there transferred to a Zurich account belonging to Louis-Dreyfus, who has since died.

The report added that Franz Beckenbauer -- the head of the bidding committee and later the organisational committee -- and Niersbach were aware of the account.

FIFA said last week that Der Spiegel had made "very serious allegations'' that "will be reviewed as part of the independent internal investigation currently being conducted by FIFA under the direction of its legal director with the assistance of outside counsel."

FIFA said it was conducting an internal investigation and that it would be asking DFB for cooperation.

"That financial support of FIFA World Cup Organizing Committees should be coupled to any kind of financial advance payment by the respective organizing committee or the relevant football association in no way corresponds to FIFA's standard processes and regulations,'' the global governing body said in a statement.

Niersbach attempted to clarify the DFB's version of events at the news conference.

He said that, after winning the right to host the tournament in June 2000, the DFB was asked to pay €6.7m into a FIFA account to receive a grant of €170m for the organisation of the tournament.

He said the organising committee were unable to come up with the €6.7m but Beckenbauer vouched for the money, which was then paid to FIFA by Louis-Dreyfus.

The organising committee then paid back the money to Louis-Dreyfus through a FIFA account in 2005, Niersbach said.

However, he was unable to explain why that course of events had been necessary.

"That's unclear to me too," he said. "I can't answer that question."

Asked whether it's common that FIFA would ask for such an extraordinary fee for a grant, Niersbach replied: "You've got me there.

"We never received any money from Louis-Dreyfus. The question of who exactly received it can only be answered by FIFA."

He said he believed that the money was returned to Robert Louis-Dreyfus by FIFA after world football's governing body had received the €6.7m from the organising committee.

However, he added: "I can't say with a 100 percent guarantee that the money was returned via the FIFA account. The investigations have to show it."

Niersbach said he was "only aware of the grant" but was "never informed about the condition" that the €6.7m would have to be paid into a FIFA account.

He continued: "I was only able to connect the dots after talks this summer. I was aware that there was something that had to with Robert Louis-Dreyfus and I can't rule out that we actually discussed it, but that's over 10 years ago."

Niersbach said that the Louis-Dreyfus loan was factually correct, but when asked why the money then never showed up in the books, he said: "That's also a question I can't answer.

"Franz Beckenbauer also says that he can't recall those events, but he can recall the starting point of it all very well -- the meeting with the FIFA president [at which Sepp Blatter is alleged to have asked for the money to release the grant]."

The explanation was followed by FIFA saying the payment "in no way corresponds to FIFA's standard processes and regulations."

FIFA responding by saying "in general the FIFA finance committee is not authorized to receive payments in any way, nor does it have its own bank account."