DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach quits over World Cup bribe claims

    Story highlights

    • German soccer president resigns
    • Takes "responsibility" for 2006 claims
    • Insists he has "no knowledge" of money flow

    (CNN)He says he has done nothing wrong -- but the head of the German Football Federation has quit following the controversy over his country's successful bid to stage the 2006 World Cup.

    Wolfgang Niersbach, who has been president of the DFB since 2012, said accusations that a payment of €6.7 million ($7.2 million) had been made to bribe officials of soccer's governing body FIFA were "depressing and painful."
      "I was always there from the first day of the 2006 World Cup bid right up until the tournament's conclusion, and in all these years not only have I always gone about my work with great passion, but I have also always worked in good faith and in a proper manner," he said in a statement on the DFB website Monday.
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      "As for the departments allocated to me -- marketing, media, accreditation and event organization -- I can say with a clear conscience, that I did nothing wrong.
      "It is therefore even more depressing and painful for me that nine years later, I am confronted with procedures of which I was not a part of and which leave many questions unanswered for me."
      The 65-year-old spent almost three decades with the DFB, and was its general secretary from 2007 until he became president five years later. He is an executive committee member for both FIFA and European football's governing body UEFA.
      His resignation came on the same day that FIFA executive committee member Vitaly Mutko -- Russia's sports minister and head of the 2018 World Cup campaign -- was accused by the World Anti-Doping Agency of being complicit in the drug scandal involving his country's track and field athletes.
      Last week, German police raided the DFB as part of a tax evasion investigation relating to the 2006 World Cup allegations -- the €6.7 million payment did not show up in an audit of the organization's accounts, according to a report by Der Spiegel.
      "I insist and would like to underline that I had no knowledge of the background of the alleged flow of money," Niersbach said in his statement. "That is why it is even harder for me to decide to take political responsibility for all of this.
      "In order to protect the DFB and the position, I have with a heavy heart decided to resign from the post of DFB president. Nevertheless, I will still contribute wherever I can to give a full explanation of the proceedings."
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      UEFA told CNN that Niersbach can "technically hold his position" on its ExCo and it had "no knowledge" if he planned to resign.
      "He will be at UEFA headquarters in Nyon tomorrow," it said Monday.
      The claims against the Germany 2006 bid organizers are just the latest in a series of scandals embroiling FIFA in the past year.
      Long-time president Sepp Blatter offered to stand down in June just days after he was re-elected, following an FBI investigation into corruption at the highest levels of the game.
      Blatter and European football chief Michel Platini have since been suspended provisionally for 90 days by FIFA's ethics committee due to a "loyalty payment" given to the Frenchman.
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      Both claim there was nothing untoward about their "gentleman's agreement" -- in which Platini received 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) in 2011, nine years after his work as a consultant to Blatter had ended.
      The UEFA president was widely expected to replace his former Swiss mentor in the FIFA elections on February 26 next year, though this is now in doubt pending the outcome of the investigation. If the suspension is extended -- another 45 days is possible -- Platini will not be able to stand.
      FIFA's secretary general Jerome Valcke -- Blatter's No. 2 -- has also been suspended for 90 days, having earlier been put on leave following allegations surrounding bribes in South Africa's staging of the 2010 World Cup and the resale of tournament tickets above face value.
      Last month, presidential hopeful Chung Mong-joon was banned for six years by the ethics committee due to infringements of rules during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar. The South Korean billionaire denies the charges.
      The FBI is seeking extradition of several FIFA officials, including former vice-president Jack Warner -- who has already been banned from football for life by his ex-employer.
      FIFA's interim president is African football head Issa Hayatou, who has previously denied allegations of bribes involving World Cup TV rights and the Qatar 2022 vote.