The ethics committee of Fifa has the proceedings against the three former top German officials Franz Beckenbauer, Horst R. Schmidt and Theo Zwanziger discontinued due to statute of limitations. It was determined because of the summer fairy tale affair revealed by SPIEGEL in October 2015. No new facts were known about the whereabouts of the ominous 6.7 million euros. In spring 2020, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court had the proceedings against Schmidt, Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach set. The key person Beckenbauer did not even have to answer as a defendant because of his allegedly compromised state of health.
The FIFA judges around the Greek Vassilios Skouris are now downright smug about Beckenbauer and his public appearances last year. There are no independent medical reports on his health, it is said. Beckenbauer’s interviews and other appearances did not give the impression of a seriously ill person – on the contrary, he was lively and remembered details many decades ago very well. In the diverse legal processing of the summer fairy tale scandal, however, Beckenbauer had not been able to remember much and was almost entirely prevented from doing so.
FIFA and ethics – traditionally they don’t go well together
The Fifa Investigation Chamber had declared six months ago that Beckenbauer, Schmidt and Zwanziger were guilty of corruption in the disguised payment of a total of 6.7 million euros (around ten million Swiss francs) to Fifa executive member Mohamed Bin Hammam. Now the Fifa judges declare that in the case of Beckenbauer the statute of limitations already occurred in 2012, in the case of Schmidt and Zwanziger in 2015, the investigations could no longer be pursued. Bin Hammam had not even been investigated.
FIFA and ethics – traditionally they don’t go well together. The US judiciary rolled out major criminal cases against dozens of high-ranking Fifa princes based on organized crime laws. Various investigations are ongoing in numerous criminal cases against officials of the world association and the continental associations on all continents.
An anecdote illustrates the bizarre nature of the ethics committee’s investigation. Bin Hammam, banned for life since 2011 due to corruption, had meanwhile been declared dead by FIFA judge Skouris. Bin Hammam is awake and enjoying his wealth at home in Doha.
Zwanziger strongly criticized investigation reports
“The main culprit was untruthfully pronounced dead. An unbelievable process, «wrote Theo Zwanziger a few days ago to the Fifa ethicists. The former DFB president was the driving force behind the attempt to clear up the summer fairy tale scandal. As a member of the Fifa Executive Committee, Zwanziger is the only German football official to date to have earned merit in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to clear up related crime in Fifa. The ethics committee has so far not replied to Zwanziger’s most recent letter, in which he also stated that there had been charges in Switzerland against the two ethics chiefs Maria Claudia Rojas (Colombia) and Vassilos Skouris (Greece) – for defamation.
Zwanziger had already severely criticized the reports of the investigative chamber headed by Rojas on which the current decision was based. “The allegations made in the investigation report that I supported an act of bribery by the main perpetrators, Franz Beckenbauer, Mohammed bin Hammam and Fedor Radmann, are untrue, supported by no remotely appropriate assessment of evidence and thus arbitrary,” wrote Zwanziger. “These allegations hurt my honor, because in my whole life I have never been guilty of anything in many public offices.” The chamber had refrained from interrogating Bin Hammam for four years. Zwanziger concludes: »A truth-based clarification is obviously not wanted at Fifa, as otherwise the World Cup in Qatar would be endangered. The suspicion must therefore be diverted to others. “
Silver for Beckenbauer
In a comparison of the three decisions that were published on Thursday, Zwanziger received the gold medal, so to speak. The case of the scout was dealt with on 27 pages, silver went to Beckenbauer and his 20 pages, bronze to long-time DFB general secretary Schmidt. In the decision of the twenties it is said that Skouris made a mistake and that when he died, he did not mean Bin Hammam, but the long-time Fifa Vice President Julio Grondona. The Argentine, who, according to the files, had diverted more than 100 million dollars from the Fifa empire, died immediately after the World Cup in 2014, ten months before the spectacular indictments by the US judiciary.
In the most recent decisions, Beckenbauer and Bin Hammam are identified as the main culprits in the summer fairy tale corruption scheme. A written statement from Zwanziger from September 2020 is cited. According to this, the millions given to Bin Hammam in 2002 were used for the re-election of Blatter. Back then, as in 1998, Bin Hammam orchestrated Blatter’s election campaign.
The question of the 6.7 million euros remains open
The duo had jetted around the world in the plane of the Emir of Qatar. In 2002, Blatter was under tremendous pressure after a section of the Executive Committee filed criminal charges against him. The Swiss judiciary soon dropped the case.
In those years, Fifa had already developed a program of VIP trips with the best tickets to world championships – for Swiss public prosecutors and judges. Blatter won in Seoul the election against the equally corrupt Issa Hayatou Cameroon.
It is unlikely that this actually happened with those 6.7 million euros from Germany. Findings from investigators suggest other solutions to the puzzle.