SAO PAULO (AP) — Germany great Franz Beckenbauer was banned from football for 90 days by FIFA on Friday for not cooperating with an investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
FIFA said the suspension was requested by ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia, making Beckenbauer the first person to be punished as a result of the case.
Beckenbauer refused "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," FIFA said in a statement.
Beckenbauer responded by saying he was surprised by news of the ban and that he had only received the questions in complicated legal English.
"I had to look at the date and make sure it wasn't April 1. I thought it was an April Fools' joke," Beckenbauer said of the ban in an interview with Sky Sport News in Germany.
It was unclear whether the FIFA suspension would prevent Beckenbauer — who won the World Cup as both a player and coach — from attending the tournament in Brazil.
FIFA suspensions relating to "any football-related activity, at any level" typically include attending matches and meeting other football officials.
Beckenbauer was a voting member of FIFA's executive committee in December 2010 when it chose Russia as 2018 World Cup host and Qatar to stage the 2022 tournament.
Beckenbauer on Friday said Garcia had sent him "around 130 questions, such as how old was the grandmother when she died. And I really wasn't bothered."
He said he informed FIFA he was prepared to answer the "important questions, the ones about corruption that keep coming regarding the awarding (of the World Cup) to Qatar" but that he needed to understand them fully before he could respond.
"I said, 'Please, I'm not proficient in English - in legal English - give me the questions in German.' That was refused and so I said, 'OK, I'm not in a position to answer them,'" Beckenbauer said.
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