As a player, Franz Beckenbauer was considered the consummate professional. Americans of a certain age recall the peerless defender from Germany as the quiet, stoic ballast amid yapping, preening teammates on New York’s Cosmos, the most celebrity-studded franchise in U.S. soccer annals.
Now Beckenbauer’s silence has brought him trouble. Refusal to cooperate with a FIFA probe into suspected irregularities with the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid process has led to a 90-day suspension from any soccer activities.
Beckenbauer, the first man to pull off a Cup double as player and head coach, exercised a vote on FIFA’s executive committee that chose Russia and Qatar as the next two host countries. British media reports suggest Beckenbauer paid two visits to Qatar, whose successful bid is shrouded in controversy, at the behest of Mohamed Bin Hammam, a disgraced former high-level soccer official there.
Beckenbauer, 68, maintains he asked FIFA to be excused from answering questions in English, one of two languages in which they were posed. Michael Garcia, a former U.S. attorney who is coordinating the investigation, counters that Beckenbauer has ducked him repeatedly.
It was immediately unclear whether Beckenbauer, who captained Germany’s winning bid as host of the 2006 Cup, would be permitted to associate with his countrymen in Brazil.