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FIFA bans former German boss Wolfgang Niersbach

Niersbach served as vice-president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee. In photo: Wolfgang Niersbach looks on prior to the EURO 2016 Group D qualifying match between Germany and Scotland at Signal Iduna Park. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Geneva, Switzerland Jul 25, 2016, 03.52 PM (IST)
FIFA's ethics committee today banned Wolfgang Niersbach, former president of the German Football Association (DFB), for one year over misconduct surrounding the country's successful 2006 World Cup bid.

"Mr Niersbach has been banned for one year from all football-related activities," a statement from FIFA's in-house court said, noting that the German official "failed to report findings about possible misconduct concerning the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup".

Niersbach served as vice-president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee.

He resigned from the German federation last November amid accusations that the DFB used a slush fund of 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros, $8 million, according to the exchange rate at that time) in 2000 to buy the right to host the tournament.

The 65-year-old has said he will now consider whether to appeal the decision. "This decision hits me very hard," Niersbach told SID, an AFP subsidiary.

"I think this sanction is inappropriate and over the top." "I will let my lawyer advise me as to whether I will appeal against the decision."

"After the hearing in Zurich, I was confident that the Ethics Commission would impose no sanction. I have once again acknowledged and regretted my mistakes."

Niersbach had insisted that quitting his job should have been punishment enough because he was not directly accused of paying bribes or financially benefitting from corruption.

FIFA prosecutors sought a two-year ban, however, arguing that Niersbach should have spoken up sooner when he learned of possible wrongdoing.

The ethics committee suspension will force his immediate removal from posts he currently holds on the FIFA Council and UEFA executive committee.

FIFA opened a probe on March 22 targeting six people including Niersbach and Franz Beckenbauer, the German football legend and World Cup organising committee chief, over their roles in the bidding process, amid allegations of bribery.

The FIFA investigation followed the release of a report commissioned by the DFB which found that Germany may have bought votes to secure the tournament.

The report linked Beckenbauer to a suspect deal with disgraced former FIFA bigwig Jack Warner.

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