Saudi soldiers in 2015. Photo by AP
Germany delivered a shipment of rocket-propelled grenades to Saudi Arabia in exchange for support for its bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup, German media reported Friday.
This is the latest development in the widening FIFA corruption scandal, which started with the arrests of seven top officials in the organization last month, and recently led to the resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, shortly after his reelection.
Germany's winning the bid to host the 2006 World Cup over South Africa came as a shock, as the latter was considered a sure win in the final round of votes in 2000, Eurosport reported.
According to the German newspaper Die Zeit, then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's government lifted its arms restrictions and sent Saudi Arabia the RPGs shortly before the vote, at the behest of the German Football Association.
Die Zeit also reported that German firms Volkswagen and Bayer, among others, joined in the efforts by promising to increase their investments in Thailand and South Korea in exchange for their votes.
Ironically, after Germany won the vote a hoax bribery affair led to calls for a re-vote, after it was revealed that a German satirical magazine sent letters to the FIFA delegates offering them cuckoo clocks and Black Forest ham in exchange for supporting Germany.
Further controversy was caused because New Zealand abstained from the vote, leading to Germany defeating South Africa by one vote.
Had the votes been tied, FIFA President Sepp Blatter would have voted for South Africa, Eurosport said.
New Zealand's then-FIFA delegate Charlie Dempsey, who died in 2008, was expected to vote for South Africa but abstained instead, citing "intolerable pressure," BBC reported at the time.
The claims of corruption surrounding the 2006 World Cup cast a shadow on the votes for 1998, 2006, 2010, 2018 and 2022 as well, Eurosport said.