Frankfurt / Main (dpa) – The German Football Association is once again the target of investigations.
Due to suspicion of tax evasion in particularly serious cases, the Frankfurt / Main public prosecutor’s office searched the business premises of the DFB and private homes of former and current association officials on Wednesday. This concerns income from perimeter advertising from home national team matches in 2014 and 2015.
A total of around 200 officials were involved in the measures in Hesse, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate, as the Frankfurt public prosecutor announced.
“The investigations conducted on suspicion of fraudulent corporate and trade tax evasion in particularly serious cases are directed against six former or current persons in charge of the DFB,” said the authority. They are accused of “deliberately incorrectly declaring income from perimeter advertising from home football matches for the national soccer team in 2014 and 2015 as income from asset management”. With this, the DFB escaped taxation of around 4.7 million euros.
“According to the investigations so far, there is a suspicion that the accused knew about this tax inaccuracy, but chose them consciously in order to give the DFB a large tax advantage,” said Chief Public Prosecutor Nadja Niesen in the press release. According to the public prosecutor’s office, the income from the lease is not attributable to tax-free asset management, but to taxable business operations. The authorities did not reveal the names of the suspects.
The former DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach is currently not directly affected by the investigations of the Frankfurt / Main public prosecutor’s office. “I was not searched. I have no other knowledge,” Niersbach told the German press agency on Wednesday.
With its perimeter advertising, an important part of the marketing of the 2014 world champions, the DFB has long been criticized. The association and its long-standing marketing agency Infront recently ended their cooperation “amicably” after almost 40 years. This was justified with the results of a study by the consulting company Esecon. In it allegations were made against Infront. The company based in Switzerland had rejected this and did not recognize the termination by the DFB.
Until 2018, the agency was commissioned to procure perimeter advertising partners for national team games. According to the investigation report from Esecon, the company was awarded the contract for the business by the DFB in 2013, although a competitor had offered up to 18 million euros more.
The DFB is still struggling with the aftermath of the “summer fairy tale” scandal. Tax evasion proceedings are still pending at the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office. The legal aftermath of the 2006 World Cup revolves around a dubious and still unsolved payment of 6.7 million euros. The then WM-OK boss Franz Beckenbauer had received this as a loan from the late entrepreneur Robert Louis-Dreyfus. In April 2005, the DFB transferred the sum to the world association FIFA as a contribution to a gala that never took place later.
The proceedings against, among others, three former top officials of the DFB in Switzerland were discontinued at the end of April due to the statute of limitations. At the request of the current DFB boss Fritz Keller, the association wants to have the events of that time examined again in detail. “It is extremely unsatisfactory, even frustrating, that we still do not have a final picture of the processes in question at the 2006 World Cup. I do not want to accept that,” said Keller. Now the DFB President has to deal with further adversity.