The former head of German football Wolfgang Niersbach has been banned from all football activities for one year by FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee over “misconduct concerning the awarding of the FIFA World Cup”.
Niersbach resigned as president of the German Football Association (DFB) in November after investigators searched the premises of the DFB headquarters in Frankfurt, as well as his home, and those of predecessor Theo Zwanziger and former general secretary Horst Schmidt amid allegations that the organisation secured the hosting rights for World Cup 2006 by corrupt means.
A member of the FIFA Council, Niersbach claimed his resignation was to “protect” the DFB and maintained his innocence.
However, a FIFA probe has found him guilty of failing “to report findings about possible misconduct concerning the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup”.
It is alleged that the DFB sanctioned a €6.7million payment to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, payback for a loan that had been used to buy votes for Germany’s successful bid to host the tournament.
FIFA’s investigation was not centred on whether Niersbach himself was involved in the deal, “but only evaluated Mr Niersbach’s awareness of the said incidents and his failure to report them to the Ethics Committee in a timely manner”.
“This decision has hit me hard,” Niersbach told Bild. “I think it is inappropriate and exaggerated.
“I will let my legal counsel advise me whether I should appeal against this decision.”