Kirch pull on soccer denied

Former pols had fruitful consulting contracts

BERLIN — Officials of Germany’s World Cup soccer organization committee have denied accusations that former Kirch Media topper Leo Kirch influenced Germany’s selection as the host country for the 2006 championships.

Former Kirch Media employees have reportedly said that the now bankrupt company organized and televised lucrative soccer matches between popular German club FC Bayern and foreign teams from Malta, Tunisia, Thailand and Trinidad in an effort to win their votes for Germany to host the games.

Kirch Media owned the television rights to the tourney, and this would have upped the income from those rights in Germany where Kirch reckoned on raising $365 million.

Former Teutonic soccer star Franz Beckenbauer, who heads Germany’s World Cup organization committee, has denied the allegations.

The accusations followed the recent discovery that prominent politicians, including former German chancellor Helmut Kohl and former finance minister Theo Waigel, had lucrative consulting contracts with Kirch Media. While not illegal, the contracts have drawn criticism from government officials who are calling for greater transparency about lawmakers’ private earnings.

In 1999 Kirch paid Kohl a consulting fee of $435,000 — twice his annual salary as chancellor, a post he held from 1982 to 1998. He has known Kirch since the 1960s.

(Christian Kohl in Cologne contributed to this report.)

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