German football chief Wolfgang Niersbach said Thursday that a controversial 6.7 million-euro payment was not a bribe to obtain the right to host the 2006 World Cup, rather, the sum was transferred in order to secure subsidies from FIFA.

“There was no slush fund, there was no vote buying,” said Niersbach.

Niersbach explained that the sum in question was paid to FIFA in 2002 in order to later receive from football’s governing body some 170 million euros in subsidies.

He said he had been aware of the issue since June, and apologised for not having informed other board members earlier.

German news weekly Spiegel had claimed in a report last week that the German bidding committee had accepted a 10.3 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at that time) loan from the then CEO of German sportswear giant Adidas, Robert Louis-Dreyfus. 

Spiegel claims the loan was used to buy the votes of four Asian members of FIFA’s 24-strong executive committee.

At the vote in July 2000 Germany saw off South Africa by 12 votes to 11 — Charles Dempsey of New Zealand abstained — to win the right to hold the 2006 World Cup, with South Africa going on to stage the 2010 edition. – Agence France-Presse

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