Pressure grows on Beckenbauer to speak out on corruption

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Pressure is growing on Franz Beckenbauer to speak out on the latest corruption allegations surrounding the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The former Bayern Munich great, who captained and coached Germany to World Cup titles, has been linked to disgraced former FIFA official Jack Warner in reports published Tuesday. He was the 2006 bid’s leading figure and the president of the committee.

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One day after German soccer federation president Wolfgang Niersbach resigned, two German newspapers linked Beckenbauer to Warner, who was then a member of the FIFA executive committee.

“We appeal to him (Beckenbauer) to bring himself more closely into the explanation of what happened,” said Rainer Koch, one of the two caretaker presidents after Niersbach’s resignation.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Bild reported Tuesday that Beckenbauer’s signature was on a draft contract with Warner, promising favors shortly before the vote on the host of the 2006 World Cup. Germany won the bid by one vote over South Africa in 2000.

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Warner, who stepped down four years ago, has been suspended for life by the FIFA ethics committee and faces corruption charges in the United States, which is seeking his extradition from Trinidad and Tobago.

The two dailies said Beckenbauer’s signature was on the draft contract, which was also initialed by his right-hand man, Fedor Radmann. They reportedly signed off on the document four days before the vote on the 2006 World Cup host. The contract promised Warner friendly matches and tickets.

Warner was at the time the president of the North American region, known as CONCACAF.

In suspending Warner in September, FIFA said Warner “committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF.”

FIFA said Warner was involved in the “offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments.”

Warner has denied all wrongdoing. He is also at the center of a U.S. indictment regarding a $10 million payment from South African soccer officials to CONCACAF, which U.S. prosecutors allege was linked to Warner’s support for South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported more than three weeks ago that a slush fund was used by German soccer officials to buy four Asian votes ahead of the vote in 2000.

Niersbach had denied any vote buying but said in his resignation comments that “things have surfaced” in recent days that led him to take “political responsibility” and step down, while denying any personal guilt.

Speaking after Niersbach’s resignation, Koch said a law firm hired by the German federation to look into the affair had singled out a number of points that need further clarification.

“We’ll have to look very closely into the circumstances of how the 2006 World Cup was awarded,” Koch said.

Until know, German federation officials have been more concerned about a suspect payment to FIFA of 6.7 million euros ($7.22 million) in connection with the 2006 World Cup, which is also the target of a tax evasion investigation by German authorities.