FRANZ BECKENBAUER is the highest-profile casualty of FIFA's probe into World Cup bidding after he 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.

Beckenbauer reacted by saying he thought the ban was a joke. "I had to check the date at first," he said. "I thought it was April the first and thus an April fool. If they mean my honorary presidency at FCB [Bayern], then I can live with it."

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The 68-year-old was on the FIFA executive committee which awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, and 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.

"Franz Beckenbauer was today provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity, at any level, for 90 days," said FIFA in a statement. "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 investigation proceedings being conducted by investigatory chamber member Vanessa Allard as chief of the investigation."