Police in Frankfurt have raided the headquarters of the German Football Association (DFB) over allegations of tax evasion linked to the 2006 Fifa World Cup, prosecutors say.
The homes of DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach, his predecessor Theo Zwanziger, and former Secretary General Horst Schmid, were also searched.
It follows reports that a secret €6.7m (£4.9m) fund was set up to secure votes for Germany to host the 2006 World Cup.
The DFB denied the claims last month.
In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said it had opened a probe into claims of serious tax evasion linked to the awarding of the World Cup to Germany in 2006.
It said it was investigating the alleged transfer of €6.7m from “the organising committee for the DFB to the Fifa football association”.
Mr Niersbach has denied the allegations, claiming instead that the sum was used to secure larger Fifa funding.
He said the deal was agreed at a private meeting between suspended Fifa President Sepp Blatter and Franz Beckenbauer, the president of the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup.
But, speaking to Der Spiegel news weekly, Mr Zwanziger accused his successor of lying, saying it was “clear that a slush fund existed”.
Mr Beckenbauer said last week he had made a “mistake” in the bidding process in 2000 to host the 2006 World Cup, but denied that votes were bought.
A former World Cup-winning captain and ex-Germany coach, Mr Beckenbauer instead supported Mr Niersbach’s claim that a payment was used to unlock Fifa subsidies.
“In order to receive a financial subsidy from Fifa, it was agreed to accept a recommendation from Fifa’s finance committee, which from today’s perspective, should have been rejected,” he said.
- Fifa President Sepp Blatter suspended along with Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Vice-President Michel Platini amid an inquiry by Fifa’s ethics committee into corruption allegations
- Swiss prosecutors are investigating Mr Blatter on suspicion of criminal mismanagement
- The US has indicted 14 current and former Fifa officials and associates on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption
- The UK’s Serious Fraud Office is investigating money laundering claims against Fifa
- German tax authorities are probing the DFB over allegations of a secret payment to secure votes to host the 2006 Fifa World Cup
- In December 2014, Fifa chose not to release its own investigation into the bidding process that awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022
In its report in October, Der Spiegel said the DFB fund to buy votes was set up using money loaned by late Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
Fifa said it would investigate the “serious allegations”.
World football’s governing body has for months been engulfed by the biggest corruption scandal in its history.
In May, 14 football officials and sports marketing executives were indicted by the US Department of Justice on charges of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption.
Meanwhile, a separate Swiss investigation began looking into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which will be held in Russia and Qatar respectively.
Then, last month, Fifa’s outgoing President Blatter, 79, was provisionally suspended, along with Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Vice-President Michel Platini, amid further allegations of corruption.
Mr Blatter is under investigation by Swiss prosecutors over allegations that he signed a contract that was “unfavourable to Fifa” and made a “disloyal payment” to Mr Platini, also head of European football’s governing body, Uefa.