December 16, 2016 / 11:03 AM / 9 months ago

FIFA panel upholds one-year ban on ex-German FA head Niersbach

Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the German Football Association (DFB) addresses a news conference at the DFB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA officials have rejected an appeal by former German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach, thereby maintaining a one-year ban on him imposed in July.

The German has responded by stepping down from all his football roles. He also said he would not take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, putting an end to his career as an administrator.

Niersbach was suspended by world soccer’s ruling body for failing to report potential misconduct surrounding the award of 2006 World Cup hosting rights to Germany.

“The Appeals Committee determined that a one-year ban from taking part in any football-related activity at national and international level was adequate in this case,” the FIFA committee said in a statement on Friday.

“In consequence Mr Niersbach’s ban for a period of one year is maintained as from 25 July 2016.”

The Appeals Committee said he had violated articles related to disclosure, cooperation and conflict of interest.

Niersbach, who sat on the FIFA Council and is also a member of the executive committee of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, though currently suspended, resigned as DFB president in November 2015.

“His personal decision ... to accept the consequences of misconduct in the past deserves recognition and respect,” the DFB said.

Current president Reinhard Grindel will now campaign for a position on UEFA’s executive committee, the DFB added.

Niersbach was unable to explain a 6.7 million euros ($7.4 million) payment from German World Cup organisers to FIFA.

A report in May from the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, an independent body, found Niersbach had violated its ethics code.

The German repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and lodged an appeal. He is also under investigation by Frankfurt prosecutors for suspected tax evasion over that specific payment to FIFA.

A DFB-commissioned report revealed in March that while there was no evidence of Germany paying FIFA members in return for their votes, payments were made to at least one former FIFA official through a web of accounts involving several other firms or individuals, including Franz Beckenbauer.

World Cup-winning player and coach Beckenbauer, who headed the 2006 hosting bid, admitted making mistakes but denied any wrongdoing over the tournament in Germany.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond and Tony Jimenez

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