ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has proved over-optimistic in his much-publicised proposal to “publish” the crucial 41-page court document which allegedly link senior power brokers in international sport – including past and present members of the FIFA executive committee.
Blatter has announced that prospect in mid-October when he brought forward to governance reform proposals. He said that the ISL documentation would be reviewed by the exco in Tokyo in mid-December, examined by an independent assessment panel and then published, in one form or another.
However, the original court agreement was that the papers should remain sealed and confidential and FIFA has now revealed that “a third party” has objected to FIFA’s attempt to apprently contravene that order.
A FIFA statement, trying to put a positive gloss on the situation and reiterating the intention to publish eventually, says: “On 21 October 2011, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter announced his commitment to publish the ISL-ISMM file after receiving the full backing to do so from the members of the FIFA executive committee. Today, the FIFA president confirms his determination to publish the file on the ISL-ISMM case despite the fact that legal measures have been taken by one of the parties involved.
“These measures request another thorough legal analysis which will postpone the envisaged publication of the ISL file.
“Joseph S. Blatter stated today: ‘FIFA has been working intensively over the past few weeks with its lawyers and legal team to be able to publish the ISL file at the next meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee in Japan on 17 December 2011. It was my strong will to make the ISL file fully transparent at this meeting. I have now been advised that as a result of the objection of a third party to such transparency it will take more time to overcome the respective legal hurdles.
“‘This does not change my stance at all. I remain fully committed to publishing the files as soon as possible as an important part of my many reform plans for FIFA, which include handling the past as well as preparing the future structure of the organisation.’
The reform process has in any case already started and will continue with a view to presenting concrete measures at the 2012 FIFA Congress.”
Coincidentally, this latest twist has occurred a day after former FIFA president Joao Havelange – allegedly named in the documents – resigned as a member of the IOC ahead of that body’s inquiry into his links with the ISL scandal. Havelange, who was FIFA leaders from 1974 to 1998, remains honorary president of FIFA for the time being.
ISL was declared bankrupt in 2001 but legal action continued until 2008 when a criminal action was closed in an out-of-court settlement. That included an agreement with FIFA that the names of any linked individuals would never be disclosed. In June 2010 all those involved agreed to confirm, for the record, the sums they had received.
This latter agreement is the document which FIFA president Sepp Blatter has proposed publishing in his attempts to undertake a reform process to help FIFA regain some credibility. The unnammed third party who has begun legal action to prevent disclosure is assumed to be one of those named. His (or her) nationality has not been clarified.
Blatter has said that none of those named in the document are Swiss, which absolves him of direct involvement. The payment of inducements in connection with sports commercial contracts was not then illegal under Swiss law. Hence the only question over Blatter and his credibility vis-a-vis ISL concerns whether he was aware of such payments.