German authorities raid soccer federation over FIFA payment

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German authorities searched the premises of the country's soccer federation on Tuesday over payments made to FIFA in connection with the 2006 World Cup.

Frankfurt prosecutor Nadja Niesen said the raids were ongoing at the federation's headquarters and at two private premises.

"The raids are linked to the awarding of the football World Cup 2006 and the transfer of 6.7 million euros to FIFA," Niesen said.

German daily Bild published photos it said showed the raid, and German news agency dpa reported that 50 officers and tax inspectors took part in the operation.

Niesen said the prosecutors' office was investigating "tax evasion in a particularly serious case."

She would not release the names of people whose homes were being searched, but German media said they were federation president Wolfgang Niersbach and his predecessor, Theo Zwanziger.

Zwanziger has accused the federation of using a slush fund to buy votes ahead of Germany's successful bid to stage the 2006 World Cup.

Niersbach has denied any wrongdoing, saying the 6.7 million euros (about $6 million) were paid to FIFA to obtain a large grant for the organizing committee. But the transaction has not been fully explained and the federation has launched its own probe into the affair.