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Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

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They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”

FIFA ethics committee places German official under probe

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) FIFA ethics investigators have recommended a fine and social work for a former high-ranking German soccer federation official for failing to report possible corruption around the 2006 World Cup.

Helmut Sandrock resigned as general secretary of the German federation in February. His former boss, federation president Wolfgang Niersbach, was banned from soccer for one year in July in the first sanction from the investigation into Germany’s World Cup bid. Niersbach stepped down from the job in November but remains a member of FIFA’s ruling council. He is appealing the suspension.

FIFA’s ethics committee found Niersbach guilty of failing to report findings of possible unethical conduct and conflicts of interest during the bidding process.

Sandrock is accused of similar misconduct and the ethics committee investigators recommended a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,000), plus social work.

Ten years later, Materazzi reveals comments to Zidane at World Cup

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The match was level at 1-1, and nothing appeared to be the deciding factor between two teams. That is until Zinedine Zidane created arguably the biggest controversy in World Cup final history.

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Ten years have since rolled on, but now, Marco Materazzi — the Italian defender that was on the receiving end of the infamous head butt at the 2006 World Cup final in Germany — has clarified the comments he made leading up to the physical altercation; kind of.

As you can see in the video above and what was also seen in live action during the match, the two players appeared to exchange words in the second extra time session.

While various reports over the years have attempted to decipher what was said, Materazzi admitted to speaking about Zidane’s sister, despite not providing the context.

“What I said was stupid,” Materazzi said. “But it didn’t deserve that reaction. You would hear stronger words said on the streets of Naples, or Milan, or Paris, much more serious things.

“My mother died when I was 15, so I would never have insulted his. I spoke about his sister.”

Ultimately, France went on to lose in the penalty shootout following Zidane’s straight red card in the 110th minute. That sequence turned out to be the final moment of the Frenchman’s professional playing career.

FIFA to investigate 2006 World Cup bidding process

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FIFA’s Ethics Committee has announced that it has “opened formal proceedings” into the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup.

The tournament was held in Germany but world soccer’s governing body is investigating six individuals, including legendary German player and manager Franz Beckenbauer, about the bidding process.

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All six individuals under investigation are no longer working for the German FA (DFB) and include former DFB vice-president Beckenbauer, former president’s Wolfgang Niersbac and Theo Zwanziger, former secretary general’s Helmut Sandrock and Horst R. Schmidt, plus former financial officer Stefan Hans.

In a statement on FIFA’s website posted on Tuesday, they had the following to say:

“After examining the Freshfields report commissioned by the German Football Association (DFB), the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has decided to open formal proceedings against the following individuals in the context of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ host selection and its associated funding.”

Beckenbauer has already been fined and warned by a FIFA ethics judge after refusing to cooperate in Michael Garcia’s investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.

FIFA also released the specific details as to why it is investigating the six individuals:

The chairman of the investigatory chamber, Dr Cornel Borbély, will lead the investigation proceedings as the chief of the investigation. He will examine all relevant evidence and hand over the case reports at the appropriate time, along with recommendations, to the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee.

Under the FIFA Code of Ethics, pursuant to the presumption of innocence, the investigatory chamber shall examine all circumstances of the cases equally. In this sense, all parties are presumed innocent until a decision has been passed by the adjudicatory chamber.

In the cases of Messrs Niersbach and Sandrock, the investigatory chamber will investigate a possible failure to report a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which could constitute a breach of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperating and reporting) and art. 19 (Conflicts of interest) of the FCE.

In the cases of Mr Beckenbauer, Dr Zwanziger, Mr Schmidt and Mr Hans, the investigatory chamber will investigate possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ host selection and the associated funding, which could constitute a breach of arts 13, 15, 18 and 19 as well as art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

The list of possible violations may be supplemented as additional information becomes available.

Daniele De Rossi leaves World Cup medal in beloved kitman’s coffin

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Daniele De Rossi is an Italian and Roma legend; The son of a Roma player, he’s been knighted in Italy, won a World Cup, and played more than 500 games for i Lupi.

He made a gesture befitting his legend status on Wednesday in Italy.

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De Rossi left Roma training to attend the funeral of former Italy kitman Pietro Lombardi, who was known as Spazzolino — or “The Toothbrush” — for how well he cleaned and prepared the boots of Gli Azzurri.

Here’s what he did, courtesy Gazzetta World:

Spazzolino had endeared himself to many of the players in that squad. Francesco Totti posted on his blog after hearing of his death. De Rossi reacted silently, preferring to keep his thoughts to himself, and his relationship with the man private.

He left training in the morning and put his World Cup winner’s medal in his pocket before driving to Florence. There, he greeted his friend for the final time and put his most valuable possession into the coffin.

Class gesture from De Rossi, who had been suspended for four matches in that 2006 World Cup championship run after elbowing USMNT striker Brian McBride.

Rest in peace, Spazzolino.