“Summer Fairy Tale Trial”: Prominent witnesses come, the secret remains

As of: April 15, 2024 6:31 p.m

Uli Hoeneß testifies in the “Summer Fairy Tale Trial”, but the court does not make any progress on the question of why millions of euros were paid to a corrupt FIFA official. There is little hope that this would be different with other prominent witnesses.

The prominent witness knew a few things exactly. This ominous payment of ten million Swiss francs, Uli Hoeneß told the Frankfurt district court, was “absolutely” not used to corrupt officials of the world football association FIFA so that they would vote for Germany to host the 2006 World Cup.

The honorary president of FC Bayern assured that FIFA was a “corrupt bunch” “at that point in time”, i.e. at the turn of the millennium, but there wasn’t enough bribes from Germany.

“I can’t say anything about that,” was a common response

He was summoned to the hearing on Monday (April 15, 2024) because he said in a football talk and a podcast about his life that he knew exactly what the money was intended for. “The ‘pretty accurate’ was probably just said for that reason,” noted the presiding judge Eva-Marie Distler, who also enjoyed some of Hoeneß’s anecdotes, but also quickly realized that one of the best-informed people in the world German football will not clear up the great secret of German football.

Uli Hoeneß himself said what everyone would think: “It can’t be that such amounts go from A to B and nobody knows what it’s for.”

“B” in this case is a company in Qatar that belonged to Mohamed bin Hammam, one of the most corrupt of the “corrupt bunch” FIFA.

Before Hoeneß took the witness stand in the early afternoon, three transcripts of interviews conducted by investigative authorities in Frankfurt and Switzerland with the now deceased Franz Beckenbauer were read out. “I can’t say anything about that,” was a very common answer.

Inconsistencies in statements by Hoeneß and Beckenbauer

Beckenbauer, head of the Organizing Committee (OC) of the 2006 World Cup, painted the self-image of a man during his interrogations who placed everything that had nothing to do with football as a sport and family in the hands of confidants. Hoeneß confirmed the picture.

Robert Schwan, who died in July 2002, was Beckenbauer’s closest confidant and advisor. “Franz had the swan do all the things that were unpleasant,” said Hoeneß, adding that this happened in addition to the pleasant things, including negotiating lucrative contracts.

There were definitely inconsistencies in Beckenbauer’s statements read out and Hoeneß’s spoken statements, some of them almost close to contradictions. Hoeneß said that the repayment of the loan from Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the former boss of “adidas”, through which the transfers to Qatar could be made, was approved by Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, the former president of the German Football Association ( DFB). Beckenbauer, on the other hand, had stated that Mayer-Vorfelder wanted nothing to do with the payment.

Louis-Dreyfus, Schwan, Beckenbauer and Mayer-Vorfelder are no longer witnesses because they are deceased. The defendants Theo Zwanziger, Horst R. Schmidt and Wolfgang Niersbach, all former top officials at the DFB, have not yet contributed anything to the true intended use of the ten million Swiss francs, which corresponded to the ominous sum of 6.7 million euros. Hoeneß’s interrogation was high-profile, but the content was thin.

What can we expect from other witnesses?

It is questionable whether Fedor Radmann, for whom the judge announced a summons, Günter Netzer and Urs Linsi would shed light on the darkness on the witness stand. Radmann was another of Beckenbauer’s confidants and was also in the OC at the time, Netzer was the mastermind for the then owners of valuable media rights and Linsi was the Secretary General of FIFA involved at the time.

The trial only seems to answer the question of whether the defendants are guilty of tax evasion in a particularly serious case, which is why they are on trial. Was the DFB allowed to claim the repayment of the loan to Louis-Dreyfus, for whatever purpose it may have been used, as a business expense? This question will primarily be the focus of attention on Thursday (April 18, 2024), the next day of the trial – with fewer spectators and far fewer cameras waiting for a prominent witness who can or does not want to contribute much to the matter. Hoeneß revealed that he warmly congratulated Bayer Leverkusen on their German championship: “It was very difficult for me.”

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