Manuel Hoffmann works for FIFA as a host for the national team of Paraguay and has on two occasions stated that Acuña was the one who asked him to make the phone call.
When Emelie Asplund, photographer at Dagens Nyheter, was on an assignment in Århus, Denmark, to cover the national football team of Paraguay she received a phone call in the middle of the night asking her to come out to spend some time with one of the players who "wanted to get to know her better", Dagens Nyheter reported yesterday.
The match between Denmark and Paraguay ended late Saturday evening. Emelie Asplund and the reporter Maria Nordström came back to the hotel around midnight. One hour later, when she was sound asleep, Emelie Asplunds phone rang. She recalls what happened:
"I rushed out of bed feeling very dizzy. At first I thought it was the alarm clock, but I don’t recognize the sound. As I pick up the phone Manuel Hoffman introduces himself and goes on to say that a mister something wants to meet up with me to get to know me a bit better. I realize it is one of the football players, but I never got the name. I ask Manuel Hoffmann what time it is. "I am sorry, I know that it’s late, but he wanted me to phone you.", he replies."
The following morning Emelie Asplund told reporter Maria Nordström what had happened during the night. Maria Nordström is the first to run into Manuel Hoffmann in the hotel lobby. The two collaborators of Dagens Nyheter were staying in the same hotel as the national team of Paraguay.
Maria Nordström recapitulates:
"When I confront Manuel Hoffmann with the events of the night before he gets a bit nervous and he seems to have regrets. He apologizes. When asked if it he sees it as part of his job to pick up girls for the football players he replies that it is hard to draw the line. "It is not my job to go around town with them either, translating as they do shopping or exchange money", he says. But he agrees when I say that there is a difference between that and phoning a girl in the middle of the night. He then gives the explanation that it is hard to say no "when you are surrounded by a group of mates".
The Dagens Nyheter employee did not know at this point on behalf of whom Manuel Hoffmann made the phone call.
"When I ask him, Manuel Hoffmann replies that it is Mister Acuña. I say "Mister Acuña"’. Then Manuel Hoffmann tells me that it was Roberto Acuña who asked him to phone" says Maria Nordström.
A moment later Emelie Asplund comes down to the lobby where Manuel Hoffmann is still standing.
"I told him that the phone call shook me up because I was woken up very suddenly. Manuel Hoffmann apologizes when I tell him that the phone call was very unpleasant. "It is hard to draw the line in this job", he replies. I then asked him who the football player was. "Mister Acuña", he replies. As this surprises me he repeats: "Mister Acuña"."
The day before the match the two Dagens Nyheter employees made a story on the 34-year-old national team veteran Roberto Acuña, who plays professionally for Deportivo La Coruña in the Spanish national league. Roberto Acuña was the captain of the Paraguayan national team when they played against Denmark on Tuesday.
Emelie Asplund was given only a couple of minutes to photograph Roberto Acuña. During the brief interview that that followed, Acuña constantly turned to his host, FIFA employee Manuel Hoffmann, for translations. Apart from this brief encounter there had been no communication or contact between the football player and the photographer.
Manuel Hoffmann’s professional card reads Team Liaison Officer for the World Cup team of Paraguay. It also states that he represents the German branch of FIFA, responsible for the World Cup arrangements.
All teams competing in the World Cup has a team liaison officer, assigned to them by the FIFA. The hosts are required to speak the national language of the competing team plus German and have a basic knowledge about the country of the team.
In yesterday’s issue of Dagens Nyheter Manuel Hoffmann said it is part of his job to do translations and that making telephone calls can sometimes be required. He did not wish to comment on any specific phone calls he might have made.
Dagens Nyheter has again contacted Manuel Hoffmann to ask him to comment on the information that he on two occasions said that Roberto Acuña asked him to make the phone call. "I have nothing to say. You need to talk to my superiors at FIFA", Manuel Hoffmann said.
In order to meet with this request Dagens Nyheter has tried to contact Jens Griffner at the FIFA. FIFA has in stead issued a statement from Wolfgang Niersbach, vice president of the German branch of FIFA organising the World Cup 2006. His statement is included in a separate article.
Dagens Nyheter will not file a complaint to the German branch of FIFA.
"We see it as a vital assignment to report on the attitudes prevalent in the world of football. It is not, however, our task to be pursuing punishment or disciplinary measures", said Jan Wifstrand, editor in chief of the Dagens Nyheter.