BREAKING NEWS: FIFA opens investigation over 2006 World Cup

FIFA has confirmed that investigations have been opened against a number of individuals, including Wolfgang Niersbach and Franz Beckenbauer, in relation to the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup.

Beckenbauer is one of four former German football officials who are under investigation over allegations of bribery and corruption relating to the awarding of the tournament to Germany.

FIFA's Ethics Committee stated on Tuesday that proceedings have begun after a report from legal firm Freshfields into Germany's bidding process for the finals.

Former German Football Association (DFB) presidents Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, ex-general secretaries Helmut Sandrock and Horst Schmidt, and former chief financial officer Stefan Hans have all been named in the investigation, along with Beckenbauer.

A FIFA statement read: "In the cases of Messrs Niersbach and Sandrock, the investigatory chamber will investigate a possible failure to report a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which could constitute a breach of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperating and reporting) and art. 19 (Conflicts of interest) of the FCE.

"In the cases of Mr Beckenbauer, Dr Zwanziger, Mr Schmidt and Mr Hans, the investigatory chamber will investigate possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup host selection and the associated funding, which could constitute a breach of arts 13, 15, 18 and 19 as well as art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

"Under the FIFA Code of Ethics, pursuant to the presumption of innocence, the investigatory chamber shall examine all circumstances of the cases equally. In this sense, all parties are presumed innocent until a decision has been passed by the adjudicatory chamber."

A report from Der Spiegel in October last year alleged that a 'slush fund' had been created by former Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus in order to secure votes key votes for Germany's bid.

The independent inquiry conducted by Freshfields, and commissioned by the DFB, stated earlier this month that the use of bribery to secure votes "could not be ruled out".

FIFA welcomed the report but stressed that "many questions remain to be answered".

Niersbach resigned from his position as head of the DFB in November, while Sandrock stepped down a week before the Freshfield report findings were published. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

Beckenbauer, who was in charge of the 2006 tournament's organising committee, denied votes were bought last October but admitted he had made a "mistake" during the bidding process.

He was issued a fine and a warning by FIFA for failing to co-operate with a separate investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar.

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