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Kaiser pleads innocence in World Cup bribery scandal

German football legend Franz "the Kaiser" Beckenbauer on Sunday insisted he is innocent in the 2006 World Cup scandal amidst allegations of corruption, pinning any potential blame on his now deceased lawyer.

Kaiser pleads innocence in World Cup bribery scandal

Beckenbauer, who captained and coached Germany to the 1974 and 1990 World Cup titles respectively, was head of the organising committee for the 2006 finals, but insists his former lawyer Robert Schwan, who died in 2002, ran his finances.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Beckenbauer told German daily Bild on Sunday when asked about a suspect money trail allegedly linked to Germany winning the right to host the 2006 finals, which the country fondly remembers as its “summer fairytale”.

“Robert handled everything for me — from changing the light bulbs to important contracts,” said Beckenbauer, 70.

On Friday, an independent inquiry commissioned by the German Football Association (DFB) said it could not rule out that Germany bought votes to secure the 2006 World Cup.

Beckenbauer has repeatedly denied both that any votes were bought and that he is guilty of any wrongdoing.

German football has been roiled by allegations, first levelled by magazine Spiegel last October, that the DFB used a slush fund to buy votes to secure the tournament.

At the centre of the inquiry by law firm Freshfields is a mysterious payment of €6.7 million.

Media reports have claimed the money was to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA's 24-strong executive committee. Germany in 2000 won the bid to stage the 2006 World Cup, beating South Africa by 12 votes to 11, with one abstention.

'Many questions'

The German inquiry outlined a money trail linking the Beckenbauer-Schwan account, former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus and Qatar, whose Mohammed bin Hammam has since been banned from football for life over corruption.

“I don't know what was done with the money in Qatar,” said Beckenbauer, who added that he knew nothing of the transaction. “We did not buy any votes. Definitely not.”

Beckenbauer again insisted the money was used to secure a subsidy from FIFA to help pay for the 2006 World Cup.

“Otherwise we would have not had a World Cup in Germany,” he said.

“Imagine if we hadn't got the World Cup — what a disgrace that would have been for Germany.”

Beckenbauer denied reports the DFB has tried to reclaim the 6.7 million euros from him, telling the newspaper: “I don't know anything about that.”

In football-mad Germany, Beckenbauer is regarded as an idol, but the scandal has damaged his image, something which clearly irks him.

“I am not going to allow my life's work to be ruined,” he insisted.

“I was a world champion as a player and coach. I helped bring the World Cup to Germany, which was a great success. It remains 'the summer fairytale'.”

“In hindsight, I might have made mistakes. Hindsight is easier than foresight.”

Beckenbauer's name appears 564 times in the 361-page Freshfields report, but the German says he has not read it.

FIFA has welcomed the report but said “many questions still remain to be answered”.

Beckenbauer was warned and fined by FIFA last month for his failure to cooperate with a separate investigation into the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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