When Sepp Blatter announced the winner to host the World Cup 2006 in the summer of 2000, German football went through its darkest phase. At EURO 2000 Germany finished at the bottom of their group behind Portugal, Romania and England. No one could have foreseen that this tournament in 2006 would kick start the change of image of Germany in foreign media. What is now alleged could shatter that carefully created image thoroughly.
The German magazine Der Spiegel has undertaken investigations that point to a payment of €6.7m made by Robert Louis-Dreyfus, then head of adidas, into a slush fund for the German organizing committee, only known to Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Niersbach, in order to bribe FIFA ExCo members to vote for Germany. It worked, Germany won the bidding process and the rest is history as they say. It turns out, the fairy tale, this Midsummernights Dream version 2006, Made in Germany was made possible with bribery and corruption. It proves that the DFB is no better than FIFA and no longer should those moral apostels be allowed to preach their sermon.
However, there is another side to this. The backlash was not unanimous supportive. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Whistleblowing is not popular when it concerns Germany’s top sport. The former editor of Focus, another weekly magazine, Helmut Markwort has stated that he would never have published this story as he thinks it lacks evidence. Moreover, he accuses the Spiegel journalists, among them Jens Weinreich, of holding back material to underline their theory. He also stated that despite this investigation, the Summer Tale of 2006 could not and will not be destroyed by Der Spiegel. The comments underneath the respective postings on facebook state the same: no one will be taking this event away nor the memories. This, of course, is not the point of Weinreich et.al. Their point is to highlight the dark side of the DFB and its leading personnel. It is telling how easy it is to distract from the original fact and divert the attention to those who dismantled the lies and deceit of those in charge. And many people are just too happy to follow. The editor of Focus, Helmut Markwort wrote about Bayern Munich under a pseudonyme. He was accused of giving internals away; he is also a member of the board of directors. Bayern are close, very close to adidas whose ex-director Richard Louis-Dreyfus is now alleged to have paid the money. Therefore, Markwort’s attack has to be carefully.
Worse was to come for Jens Weinreich. For years, if not decades he has been working with Andrew Jennings and others to report on the shady dealings of FIFA. The current storm must be more than vindication for him and his colleagues and friends. Yet he came in for a harsh treatment on Sky Germany when he was interviewed by a panel discussion without knowing that beforehand the DFB was interviewed and Weinreich had no idea what was awaiting him. It was a trap as he admitted himself later:
— Jens Weinreich (@JensWeinreich) October 18, 2015
This goes right to the heart of the DFB: Niersbach as its current president was involved as a media manager during the organizing of the 2006 World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer was the head of this committee. Even Günter Netzer was involved or at least knew of this slush fund and he spoke about it freely. As soon as Niersbach faced the press he was in for a incredible backlash from many sides, including FIFA. His predecessor in office, Theo Zwanziger accused him of lying in Der Spiegel.
Whichever this way this will be going, the DFB will have a tougher future to face. The reputation has taken severe damage and it will take years if not decades to restore trust.