Berlin - The German football federation (DFB) on Friday dismissed irregularities and vote-buying in connection with the country's hosting of the 2006 World Cup, but did not rule out that a payment from 2005 may have been improperly used by the ruling body FIFA.
The DFB said in a statement that "in light of recent investigation into world football's governing body FIFA, and due to recurrent media coverage" the DFB "have launched an internal investigation into the awarding of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
"After thorough examination and auditing, the DFB have found no evidence of any irregularities. Furthermore, there is no evidence that any of the delegates' votes were won illegally at any stage in the application process," the statement said.
READ: GERMANY HAD 2006 SLUSH FUND - REPORT
"Through the investigations, DFB became aware that a 6.7 million euro payment, which was paid to FIFA in April 2005 by the organisational committee of the 2006 World Cup, may not have been used for its intended purpose (the FIFA culture programme). This payment was in no way linked to the awarding of the 2006 World Cup, which had been decided 5 years previously."
FIFA said it had handed the issue to its audit and compliance commission to investigate while Der Spiegel news magazine alleged on its website the money was part of a slush fund to land the 2006 World Cup.
The DFB said the examination, initiated in summer by DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, who was also organizing committee vice-president, and helped by external legal counsel, is yet to be completed.
The DFB was also looking into "any issues pertaining to DFB's claim to any potential repayment," its statement said.
Germany narrowly beat South Africa 12-11 in the vote by the FIFA executive committee in 2009, with Oceania's Charles Dempsey abstaining and citing huge pressure on him from undisclosed parties.
German news reports have speculated on whether some government and business contracts may have been linked to the awarding of the World Cup.
Der Spiegel said the German bid committee had a slush fund of 10.3 million Swiss francs and that was used to secure the votes of four Asian delegates at the deciding FIFA vote.
The report said money came from then Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus and that bid committee chief Franz Beckenbauer and Niersbach were aware of it, the latter at least since 2005.
The money never appeared in any budget of the bid and organising committee, and Dreyfus reportedly wanted the sum - 6.7 million euros - back in 2005.
The sum was sent to FIFA, officially for a planned but then cancelled opening gala on the eve of the tournament, and to be then returned to Louis-Dreyfus, Der Spiegel said, citing confidential documents.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa has also been the subject of speculation in corruption allegations swirling around FIFA.
US authorities are investigating the transfer of 10 million dollars, paid by FIFA on behalf of the South African organizers. South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has has denied the payment was a bribe.