Franz Beckenbauer has become the highest-profile casualty of Fifa's probe into World Cup bidding after the German was provisionally banned for 90 days while he is investigated for refusing to co-operate.
Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner as a player and a manager, honorary president of Bayern Munich and a special adviser to Fifa's football committee, was handed the suspension by Fifa's ethics committee's adjudicatory chamber.
The 68-year-old was on the Fifa executive committee which awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. He stepped down in 2011.
Beckenbauer claims that he did not respond to an interview request sent by ethics investigator Michael Garcia, an American attorney, because he did not understand all of the questions that were sent to him in English.
Fifa said in a statement: “Franz Beckenbauer was today provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity, at any level, for 90 days.
“The apparent breach relates to Mr Beckenbauer’s failure to cooperate with an ethics committee investigation despite repeated requests for his assistance, including requests that he provide information during an in-person interview or in response to written questions provided in both English and German.
"The case is now the subject of formal investigation proceedings being conducted by investigatory chamber member Vanessa Allard as chief of the investigation."
Earlier this week, Garcia issued a veiled threat to officials who refused to co-operate with the investigation that they could face “real penalties”.
Beckenbauer insisted he had nothing to hide, telling German media: “I politely requested a meeting in which we could talk about the matter in German. That was apparently not desired. That aside I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything to clear up the matter anyway.”
The provisional ban was imposed by the deputy chairman of the adjudicatory chamber, Alan Sullivan, at the request of Garcia–— the chamber's chairman Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert withdrew from the case as he too is German.
Beckenbauer has had business links with both Russia and Qatar but there is no suggestion these influenced his vote – and he has never stated which countries he did vote for.
He is an ambassador for the Association of Russian Gas Producers and German media have reported he visited Qatar in June 2011 as part of a business delegation representing the Hamburg-based ship-owning company ER Capital Holding on a trip arranged by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the former Fifa member who was banned for life in 2012.
Garcia has completed his investigation into the bidding and his report will now be reviewed by the adjudicatory chamber which will decide on whether there is to be any action.
Garcia's investigation was launched in 2012, 18 months after the vote for the World Cups, and followed allegations of corruption involving World Cup bidding. The US lawyer said this week he was already in possession of "almost all" of the documents recently revealed by the Sunday Times alleging payments of officials.