Soccer great Franz Beckenbauer has been named as a criminal suspect in a World Cup fraud case. The former West German captain is one of four people being investigated over a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.3 million) linked to FIFA before the 2006 tournament in Germany. His home in in Austria was raided for evidence on Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors investigating allegations of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. It was one of eight raids carried out, while “various suspects” were also questioned, the investigators said. Beckenbauer denies any wrongdoing.
It is suspected that the suspects willfully misled their fellow members of the executive board of the organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup
The four men were all members of the organising committee for the World Cup tournament in Germany in 2006. Three of the suspects – Beckenbauer, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach – are past or current members of the FIFA executive committee, although Niersbach was banned for one year by the FIFA ethics committee in July. The other is Horst Schmidt, vice president of the 2006 organizing committee. The investigation, opened in November but only formally revealed today,threatens to wreck the reputation of the 70-year-old Beckenbauer, arguably the nation’s greatest ever player who captained and coached West Germany to World Cup titles.