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Police raid MFA HQ over World Cup bribe scandal

MFA raid came in light of fresh claims

The police have raided the offices of the Malta Football Association in connection with allegations that Germany secured the right to host the 2006 World Cup after paying bribes to world governing body (FIFA) members.

When asked for a comment, MFA general secretary Bjorn Vassallo yesterday confirmed that, last Monday, officers from the Economic Crimes Unit searched through the archives of the association’s Ta’ Qali headquarters for any documents that might throw light on this scandal.

“Probably this operation was done in conjunction with a wider probe in various other countries where similar allegations have also surfaced up against the respective associations,” he said.

The MFA is fully collaborating with the authorities looking into this scandal

He said the development followed a meeting last Friday in which the police had requested him to put all related documentation at its disposal.

“The MFA is fully collaborating with the authorities looking into this scandal, in line with our mission to eradicate corruption from football,” Mr Vassallo said.

Monday’s police raid came in the wake of fresh claims made in UK newspaper Mail on Sunday, saying German football legend Franz Beckenbauer was complicit in influencing the votes of FIFA’s executive committee in 2000 before it allocated football’s most prestigious tournament to Germany at England’s expense.

Bribery allegations have also surfaced in the German magazine Der Spiegel which claimed there was a €6.7 million slush fund specifically intended to buy votes.

Mr Beckenbauer, who has denied any knowledge of this fund, headed the organising committee that piloted his country’s bid for the 2006 tournament and while he was also president of Germany’s most successful club, Bayern Munich.

According to the UK newspaper, on June 1, 2000, a secret agreement was reached through which the Bavarian club would play a friendly against Malta, with the MFA receiving a payment of $250,000. Five weeks later Malta voted in favour of the German bid.

A €6.7m slush fund specifically intended to buy votes

The most recent allegations concern the existence of memo dated June 6, 2000, which was sent by a lawyer of German media company Kirch to then CEO Dieter Hahn.

The document made reference to a so-called “consultancy agreement” and seemed to give the go-ahead for payments to be made in return for television rights related to Bayern Munich’s friendly games, including the one held in Malta.

Meanwhile, Joe Mifsud, who headed the MFA at the time of this agreement, told a court last Monday that he could not remember if Mr Beckenbauer was present when he signed the Bayern contract at his Qrendi home. Dr Mifsud strenuously denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

He was being cross-examined during libel proceedings which he had initiated in 2008 against his successor, Norman Darmanin Demajo, and newspaper Illum.

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