- The law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was to inform as an independent instance of the summer fairy tale affair.
- In their final report on the World Cup scandal were criticisms.
- Now SZ research shows: Even in the environment of the World Cup 2006 preparations were Freshfields lawyers for that German OK in action, whose activities Freshfields years later should be examined.
- From the point of view of the law firm "there was neither a conflict of interest nor a partiality".
It was still half a year until the 2006 Football World Cup in Germany, and the Organizing Committee (OC) was increasingly having problems solving a tricky business. It was about the ticketing, so tricky things like option programs, "TST cards" or the question of how the "German football family" can be supplied with maps. This core complex of the World Cup preparation was supported by Franz Beckenbauer OK not only with its own staff. It commissioned the experts of a law firm. And that was called after SZ searches: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
That contains explosive power. For nine years later, Freshfields achieved with a different mandate in national football's great notoriety: It was the law firm, which commissioned the German Football Association (DFB) in the fall of 2015 to enlighten as an independent instance of the summer fairy tale affair. The company should lighten the cash flow by a now infamous 6.7-million-euro transfer. In the room was the suspicion of German voice purchases in the World Cup award, it was about allegedly dirty deals around the tournament. The DFB bore the Freshfields mandate right from the start like a monstrance: Look, we're doing everything imaginable in terms of transparency – we're even completely independent! A unique in the sports world action is that, cheered the DFB-grandees still in the presentation of the final report.
That was in March 2016. After that, however, it soon became apparent that the work of Freshfields offered little education – instead, notable omissions and, at least the impression, even deception. Now SZ searches show that this enlightenment liaison from the beginning was a serious conflict of interest.
Because even then, in the context of the World Cup 2006 preparations, Freshfields lawyers were intensively in action – for that German OK, whose activities Freshfields years later should be examined. The firm received after SZ information at that time fees in the six-digit range, alone in one quarter, the bills add up to almost 100 000 €. Numerous phone calls, exams and other services were made in connection with problems in the ticket sector; also meetings with the responsible DFB ticket manager and high-level officials, which had to interview Freshfields later in his scouting role, should have listened accordingly. Exactly what the extent of the activity and the remuneration was, neither the law firm nor the DFB inform on request. It is clear, however, that Freshfields himself participated in the World Cup preparatory phase, which the firm later had to sift through.
What the DFB and Freshfields say
That Freshfields anyway in the fall of 2015 – only hours after publication of the first mirror-Textes to the World Cup affair – mandated by the DFB, raises questions. Was not the firm considered biased? Why was not another one just taken? And why was not at least informed that here no external examiner, but a former World Cup helper had been brought on board?
A DFB spokesman answered these questions as follows: "Law firms check for any conflicts of interest that preclude an assignment before accepting a new mandate, and Freshfields has done so, confirming that there is no conflict of interest." And further: "We assume that Freshfields has carried out its mission in accordance with the report accordingly carefully, impartially and professionally."
Incidentally, the DFB leadership was around the current president Reinhard Grindel and his deputy Rainer Koch "at the commission not known" had "that Freshfields also had a mandate for the OC of the 2006 World Cup". Today's DFB President Grindel was the treasurer of the association in the fall of 2015 and, in this capacity, the liaison officer of the Bureau for Freshfields.
A spokesman for the firm, in turn, informed the SZ of a questionnaire on the subject: "There was no conflict of interest or bias, since there were no other mandates that would have affected the subject of our investigation Mandate acceptance of course checked. "
But is that really enough to rule out bias? Is not one also biased when one can become the subject of investigation?
In any case, the participants should have been sensitized already because early doubts arose on the independence of the inspectors: Immediately after commissioning in 2015 it became known that Freshfields front man Christian Duve and Friedrich Curtius – then head of the entangled in the scandal DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach and later, under the new leadership of Grindel, promoted to secretary-general – from joint board activities in the Frankfurt Rotary-Club.
In addition, there were early reports that Freshfields three years earlier had also worked for the football functionary Mohammed Bin Hammam and even in the environment of the Organizing Committee for the Qatar World Cup 2022. Bin Hammams companies and Qatar: These are also key fields in the hunt for the postponed millions in the German World Cup scandal – and Qatar 2022 suspicion of purchased votes. Freshfields defended its activity at that time also with the remark that the mandates for Qatar in the field of football had no relation to the investigation mandate at the DFB.