Proceedings dropped in Summer Fairy Tale Affair
There is a legal turnaround in the affair surrounding the awarding of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The proceedings against former DFB officials are discontinued. One of the suspects is now preparing to counterattack.
Dhe regional court in Frankfurt am Main has dropped the proceedings in the summer fairy tale affair surrounding the 2006 World Cup against former DFB officials Horst R. Schmidt, Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach. The Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office confirmed this on Monday to the German Press Agency. A process in Switzerland had already failed in the previous year.
In Switzerland, the former top officials of the German Football Association and the world association FIFA had received compensation. The four originally accused received a total of around 705,000 Swiss francs (640,000 euros). The sum was far below the demands.
The Swiss federal prosecutor’s office had tried to burden the ex-officials with legal costs. She argued, among other things, that the four complicated the case before it was dropped in April 2020 due to the statute of limitations. The former DFB presidents Niersbach (71) and Theo Zwanziger (77), the former DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt (80) and the former FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi (73) were accused. The Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office had also investigated the quartet in the same factual context.
The Frankfurt Regional Court announced on Monday: “In the criminal case in question, no information is currently being given.” Because of “an unresolvable procedural obstacle”, according to Schmidt’s defense, the proceedings were discontinued. Double punishment by a court in Switzerland and in Germany is not possible.
Internal processing at the DFB
The DFB is still working on the summer fairy tale affair internally – a sensational, expensive report from the Freshfields law firm had not yielded any earth-shattering findings. FIFA announced in February 2021 that it was no longer pursuing the ethics proceedings against Zwanziger, Beckenbauer and Schmidt due to the statute of limitations.
Zwanziger, Schmidt and Linsi were accused of fraud in Switzerland, and Niersbach of aiding and abetting fraud. A procedure against World Cup organization chief Franz Beckenbauer (77) had been separated because of his health.
In essence, it was a payment of 6.7 million euros from the DFB via the world association FIFA to the businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who has since died. The money was declared as a contribution to a gala for the 2006 World Cup, which never took place. In 2002, Beckenbauer had received a loan from Louis-Dreyfus for the same amount, which ended up in the accounts of former FIFA finance official Mohamed bin Hammam. To this day it is still unclear why.
Zwanziger is suing the public prosecutor
Schmidt’s lawyer announced on Monday that the Frankfurt court had “correctly determined” that “the decision to discontinue the Swiss Federal Criminal Court of May 20, 2021” resulted in “a criminal prosecution pursuant to Art. 54 SDÜ, since both criminal proceedings concerned the same facts”. The costs of the procedure are now borne by the state treasury. Now the “criminal prosecution of Mr. Horst R. Schmidt has come to a temporary end,” it said.
The investigations and the parallel proceedings in Germany and Switzerland would have “burdened our client a lot in the past seven years”. Schmidt’s defense attorneys attached “great importance to the finding that Mr. Schmidt was never and under no circumstances liable to prosecution”. “So it stays the same: The summer fairy tale of 2006 was the best World Cup of all time,” it said.
According to information from “Bild”, among other things, ex-DFB President Zwanziger is now suing the Frankfurt public prosecutor. It is also likely that Niersbach, Schmidt and Linsi also want to take legal action against the Frankfurt judiciary. According to the report, Zwanziger had already filed a criminal complaint against tax investigators, public prosecutors and judges of the Higher Regional Court on September 21 and is demanding 50,000 euros in damages.