Franz Beckenbauer and other former German football officials cannot be prosecuted over the 2006 World Cup vote-buying scandal because the statute of limitations has expired, FIFA’s ethics committee said Thursday.
“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent ethics committee has ruled that the conduct of Franz Beckenbauer, Theo Zwanziger and Horst R. Schmidt in connection with the 2006 FIFA World Cup cannot be prosecuted due to the expiry of the applicable limitation period,” it said in a statement.
FIFA’s internal judiciary said it had determined that the statute of limitation had expired in 2012 for Beckenbauer and in 2015 for Zwanziger and Schmidt.
In March 2016, FIFA’s ethics committee opened formal proceedings against Beckenbauer and five other people over their roles in the bidding process for the 2006 finals, amid allegations of bribery.
Beckenbauer, who is referred to as “the Kaiser” in Germany as the regal defender who steered his country to World Cup triumphs as both a player and a manager, chaired the 2006 World Cup organising committee.
Former German Football Association (DFB) president Zwanziger and former general secretary Schmidt were also mentioned in those proceedings.
At the time, the ethics committee pointed to “possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup host selection”.
The investigation was prompted by a report in German publication Der Spiegel in 2015 that Germany had used a secret fund of 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at the time) to buy votes and obtain the rights to host the competition at the expense of South Africa.