FIFA ethics panel bans ex-head of German FA for one year
ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA's Ethics Committee has banned Wolfgang Niersbach, the former president of the German Football Association, for one year for failing to report potential misconduct surrounding the award of the 2006 soccer World Cup in Germany.
The adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee barred Niersbach from all football-related activity, it said on Monday. FIFA investigators had sought a two-year ban.
"The present case did not look into possible breaches of the FIFA code of ethics in relation to possible acts of bribery and/or corruption with regards to the award of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but only evaluated Mr Niersbach’s awareness of the said incidents and his failure to report them to the Ethics Committee in a timely manner," the panel said in a statement.
Niersbach, who still sits on the world soccer body's Council as well as Europe's UEFA Executive Committee, resigned from the DFB presidency in November after he was unable to explain a 6.7 million euro ($7.4 million) payment from the German World Cup organisers to FIFA.
A report in May from the investigatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee - an independent body - found Niersbach had violated its ethics code and recommended he be banned for two years from all football-related activity and fined.
Niersbach, who has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing, said at the time he disagreed with the severity of the recommendations.
He said he was being investigated now for failing to inform FIFA's ethics commission last year of the developments regarding the 2006 affair.
The committee's adjudicatory chamber had opened formal proceedings against Niersbach - who was a vice president of the 2006 organising committee - following the investigatory chamber's recommendation.
Niersbach is also under investigation by Frankfurt prosecutors for suspected tax evasion over the payment to FIFA.
A DFB-commissioned report revealed in March that while there was no evidence of Germany paying FIFA members in return for their votes, payments were made to at least one former FIFA official through a web of accounts involving several other firms or individuals, including Franz Beckenbauer.
Beckenbauer, a World Cup-winning player and coach who headed the 2006 World Cup bid, admitted to making mistakes but denied any wrongdoing over the tournament in Germany. He is not suspected of tax evasion.
The World Cup affair, which has shocked soccer-mad Germany, was triggered by the payment from the DFB to FIFA, which the DFB said last year was the return of a loan via the ruling body from former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
($1 = 0.9112 euros)
(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Michael Shields/Mark Heinrich)