The World Cup in 2006 may be the subject of bribes and corruption. For years, investigations and reports have tainted the World Cup in Germany from that year. Now, the case is officially going to court to determine if there was a slush fund to bring one more vote to Germany. By the end, Germany had one more vote than South Africa, which gave the Germans the right to host the tournament.

Now, prosecutors claim the German Football Association (DFB) claimed tax evasion on a payment between Franz Beckenbauer and a Qatari official. For years, the focus of the bribery case centered around corruption. However, that fell out of FIFA’s Statute of Limitations for initiating legal proceedings as the process had gone on too long. Yet, the case on tax evasion is still legitimate. If found guilty, certain officials could face up to 10 years in prison.

The suspicious payments come from a $6.5 million payment from former Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus to German icon Franz Beckenbauer. Beckenbauer then allegedly wired that money to a Qatari official, Mohammed bin Hammam. He cast a vote in the selection process for the 2006 World Cup. According to the Financial Times, the DFB repaid the $6.5 million loan to Louis-Dreyfus three years later. Prosecutors said the DFB channeled that loan through FIFA. In doing so, Germany hid its true intention, which was to pay for a vote. While this all may seem like suspicious activity, previous investigations into the DFB and FIFA were inconclusive.

Instead, the tax implications on repaying Louis-Dreyfus constitute tax evasion, according to the prosecutors. The DFB listed the payment as a business expense. Thus, it illicitly claimed tax relief on repaying the loan on Beckenbauer’s behalf. As stated, the DFB paid that money through FIFA. The official word was that the DFB was paying for a gala night in Germany for the FIFA World Cup. That night never happened, and FIFA wired the money to Louis-Dreyfus the next day.

Connection to bribes for the World Cup in 2006

Previous investigations found that the DFB deliberately masked the payment on behalf of Beckenbauer. However, that case failed to show a concrete connection with hosting rights for the 2006 World Cup.

That tournament eventually led to Italy winning the competition for the fourth time. Germany finished third after losing to the Italians in extra time in the semifinals. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the bidding process for the World Cup in 2006 started a train of bribery and corruption accusations within FIFA. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar drew considerable ire with connections to bribery. In relation to 2006, all involved parties maintain that they did not pay for the World Cup.

“The persecution of celebrities appears to have been more important than uncovering the truth,” Hans-Jörg Metz, a lawyer for Zwanziger, said about a biased investigation.

Beckenbauer, a major player in this case, passed away earlier in 2024. He maintained his innocence when critics would mention his involvement in bringing the World Cup to Germany in 2006.