By Brian Homewood
German former World Cup winning coach and captain Frank Beckenbauer was provisionally banned for 90 days from football for failing to co-operate with a FIFA ethics committee investigation, soccer’s governing body said on Friday.
Beckenbauer, who was on the FIFA executive committee which controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Qatar in 2010, had received “repeated requests” to provide information, FIFA said in a statement.
The ban was imposed at the request of United States lawyer Michael Garcia, head of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, who is leading an investigation into the 2022 decision.
Beckenbauer is regarded as one of the greatest players ever to have graced the game and is revered in Germany, where he is honorary president of Bayern Munich, and abroad.
As a player, Beckenbauer redefined the role of libero and captained the West Germany side which won the 1974 World Cup.
He led West Germany to World Cup victory as a coach in 1990 and was head of the local organising committee when Germany hosted the showpiece in 2006.
On Wednesday, Garcia told FIFA’s annual Congress in Sao Paulo that he and his team already had access to the “vast majority” of millions of documents the Sunday Times newspaper referred to in a recent report alleging bribery in the run-up to Qatar’s successful bid.
Garcia is expected to issue his report in July.
“Franz Beckenbauer was today provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity, at any level, for 90 days,” said the FIFA statement. “The ban is effective immediately.
“The decision was taken…on the grounds that a breach of the Code of Ethics appears to have been committed and a decision on the main issue may not be taken early enough.
“The apparent breach relates to Mr Beckenbauer’s failure to cooperate with an Ethics Committee investigation despite repeated requests for his assistance, including requests that he provide information during an in-person interview or in response to written questions provided in both English and German.
“The case is now the subject of formal investigation proceedings being conducted by investigatory chamber member Vanessa Allard as chief of the investigation.”
Garcia has said that his team would consider any material provided to them, but would not delay the publication of the final report indefinitely.
The Sunday Times said some of the “millions of documents” it had seen linked payments by former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam to officials as part of a campaign to win support for Qatar’s bid.
Bin Hammam has not commented on his involvement since he was banned for life from soccer in 2012, while Qataris working on the project say he was not a part of its official bid.
The allegations have caused severe embarrassment to FIFA and its long-serving president Sepp Blatter, who is expected to stand for a fifth term next year.