BERLIN: Lawyers for football legend Franz Beckenbauer on Wednesday rejected claims he was paid millions as chairman of Germany’s World Cup organising committee and sought to hide the sum from tax authorities.
News website Spiegel Online had reported that Beckenbauer drew a fee of more than five million euros ($5.6 million) and that he failed to report the payment to tax authorities.
The report was yet another embarrassment for Beckenbauer, 71, who is being investigated by Swiss authorities in relation to corruption allegations over the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany.
According to Spiegel, the payment to Beckenbauer was taken from a donation of 12 million euros made by a World Cup sponsor, the gambling company Oddset.
But Beckenbauer’s attorneys at Nesselhauf law firm rejected the claim, saying in a statement that the earning arose from his advertising work and that he had “been promptly taxed at his Austrian residence”.
Separately, Theo Zwanziger, who was then boss of the German Football Federation, also told Die Welt daily that the sum was “not payment for his work at the organisation committee”.
Rather, it was a fee for Beckenbauer’s PR work with the tournament’s sponsors, he said.
But the Spiegel claims had sparked anger from current DFB boss Reinhard Grindel, who accused the man nicknamed “the Kaiser” (the emperor) of lying and misleading the public.
Unaware he was paid
“We know that Franz Beckenbauer worked for Oddset in the context of the World Cup. But we were not aware that he drew a sum of 5.5 million euros ($6.2 million) from the budget of the organisation of World Cup 2006,” Grindel said in a statement.
“Obviously, given these conditions, we cannot say that he had worked on an unpaid basis for the organising committee,” the DFB boss added in a statement from Athens, where he was attending a UEFA congress.
Beckenbauer did not declare the sum to tax authorities for four years, according to Spiegel.
But following checks by tax authorities, the DFB was ordered to pay a million euros in withholding taxes on the sum in 2010. Beckenbauer subsequently repaid those taxes levied to the DFB.
His lawyers Wednesday confirmed the repayment, and said the withholding tax had been levied because Beckenbauer was not a German resident then.
Beckenbauer captained Germany to the 1974 World Cup and coached the side that won the trophy in Italy in 1990.
But his reputation has been badly tarnished by his role in the ongoing scandal over the awarding of the 2006 World Cup finals to Germany.
Swiss authorities are investigating him, along with three other members of the organising committee over “allegations of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation”.
The probe came after a Spiegel report last October that a secret fund of 10 million Swiss francs was used to buy the hosting rights of the 2006 World Cup.
The money allegedly came from the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, ex-boss of Adidas, at Beckenbauer’s request, and was handed over in 2000, just before Germany were awarded the 2006 finals by a narrow vote.
In May, an independent inquiry commissioned by the DFB said it could not rule out that Germany bought votes to secure the 2006 World Cup.
Beckenbauer has always denied any wrongdoing.