Pressure grows to explain German slush fund report

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) The head of German football is coming under growing pressure to explain away a report that about $6 million was used to buy support to bring the 2006 World Cup to Germany.

Wolfgang Niersbach has denied any wrongdoing, but acknowledged he does not know what money, if any, was diverted.

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday that a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs (about $6 million at that time) was set up to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA executive committee.

Now, influential regional football bodies are putting pressure on Niersbach to explain what happened.

Hesse state federation president Rolf Hocke said Wednesday that all 21 regional chiefs have asked the national body for a speedy resolution.

”The flow of the money has to be explained quickly and fully, externally and internally,” Hocke said.

Hocke said the case had ”surprised everyone.”

”The situation is uncomfortable. That’s why we need a full explanation,” he said.

Another regional chief, Matthias Schoeck, complained that he had only learned about the case from the media.

Earlier this week, Niersbach categorically denied that there had been any slush funds or vote buying during the bid.

Bid committee leader Franz Beckenbauer said he never had money given to anyone to buy votes.

Niersbach, who was also a senior member of the German bid committee, said Germany ran an honest bid.

”We conducted the bid with honest means, and ultimately decided (the contest) with honest means for us, for Germany, for German football on July 6, 2000 in Zurich,” Niersbach said at an event at the German Football Museum in Dortmund on Monday.

A federation panel is investigating the case, as well as an ”internationally respected” law firm, but Niersbach could not say how long the probe would last.

German prosecutors are examining whether there are grounds to open an investigation into the allegations.