KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY
— TOKYO: Issa Hayatou, the African football president handed a disciplinary slap on the wrist by the IOC, has received a round of applause instead from his colleagues on the FIFA executive committee.
This apparently contradictory reaction to the man whose financial relationship with ISL had landed him in trouble with the Olympic movement, was described today by Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president.
Blatter was speaking at a press conference after a two-day meeting of the FIFA exco in Tokyo ahead of tomorrow/Sunday’s Club World Cup final between Barcelona and Santos.
The murky issue of the relationship between ISL, the bankrupt former marketing partner of both FIFA and the IOC, remains a problem.
In October Blatter had said that he and the FIFA exco wanted to open up now a revelatory court document relating to illicit payments by ISL to FIFA and other senior sports officials.
However one of the parties to the document had taken legal action in the court of Zug, which had jurisdiction over the ISL case, to block that move. Blatter said: “The court in Zug has yet to deliver a decision.”
He added: “The executive committee and myself personally would have liked to act as soon as possible and forget the past . . . it’s unfortunate that we cannot open the file now but I do not lose hope that we can be transparent and open here.”
Earlier this month Hayatou – one of the men named in the ISL papers – had been handed a reprimand by the IOC ethics committee for a lack of clarity over a sum of $107,000 which he had received from ISL in 1995.
He had claimed the money was a gift from ISL towards the 40th anniversary celebrations of the African confederation. No receipts from that time existed but the fact that Hayatou had not then been an IOC member was a mitigating factor towards the lenient treatment he received from the Olympic body.
Even that reprimand meant nothing at all to FIFA.
Blatter said: “Mr Hayatou is still a good-standing member of the IOC . That has been confirmed to me by [the IOC president] Mr [Jacques] Rogge and I brought this to the attention of the executive committee . . . and most of them even applauded.”
Two other exco members were also the subject of Blatter’s attention.
He said that the Thai FA president Worawi Makudi had no case to answer over concerns about misuse of Goal project money. However, the Brazilian federation president Ricardo Teixeira – subject of increasing controversy over his financial affairs – had taken leave of absence from all football matters until the end of January.
Review of the year
In a wide-ranging review of a troubled 2011, Blatter expressed FIFA’s support for Japan after the earthquake last March, hailed the country’s victory in the Women’s World Cup and commented with satisfaction on the outcomes of the Under-17, Under-20 and beach soccer world championships. He also announced that the staging of the Club World Cup would move from Japan to Morocco in 2013 and 2014.
Blatter insisted that the awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar were set in stone and that the issue of the wearing of Muslim women’s headscarf had been referred to the International Board’s annual meeting in London next March.
He also reported steady progress of the reforming work set under way after Congress last June and added: “The executive committee is strong and is united and will respond to the expectations of FIFA Congress and public opinion that we will carry out, if necessary, the pertinent reforms.”
Blatter did admit to concerns about the political paralysis at the head of CONCACAF and over the state of preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He has a meeting scheduled with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff early in the new year.