STRASBOURG: In a reiteration of the apparently obvious, a Council of Europe member has suggested it is “difficult to imagine” that FIFA’s leadership would not have known of sums paid by long-bankrupt ISL to certain officials over World Cup TV rights contracts writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This – following up on evidence already confirmed during the Swiss court process a decade ago – has come from the author of a report for the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly.
An addendum to the original report Good governance and ethics in sport by French Christian Democrat Francois Rochebloine publishes the full testimony given by Thomas Hildbrand, the Swiss special prosecutor handling the 2001 collapse of ISMM/ISL, to PACE’s Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media at a closed hearing in Paris earlier this year.
Hildbrand provided detailed breakdowns of payments made to two persons whom he does not name for legal reasons, though he states: “both were top officials of FIFA and one still is”. He also indicates that one of them was the President of the Football Association of a South American country.
In his addendum, the rapporteur says it is “extraordinary” that FIFA’s leadership took no steps, whether internally or via the courts, to enable FIFA to obtain reparation of the sums involved, pointing out: “The money paid under-the-counter to certain unscrupulous officials should have been paid to FIFA.”
It has been widely reported that the two FIFA officials concerned were former president Joao Havelange and his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira. Also named during the court process were South American confederation president Nicolas Leoz, African confederation president Issa Hayatou and IAAF athletics president Lamine Diack.
Hayatou and Diack have been handed slaps on the wrist by the ethics committee of the International Olympic Committee of which both are members. Havelange, who is currently hospitalised in Rio de Janeiro, quit the IOC last December after 48 years ahead of an ethics hearing into his alleged receipt of illicit payments from ISL.
A attempt to have the ISL documents freed from a confidentiality agreement sealed in the Swiss courts is currently being contested by two unnamed parties, also believed to be Havelange and Teixeira.
Mark Pieth, the governance professor contracted by FIFA to propose structural reorganisation, has suggested the world federation should consider risking a contempt of court action by publishing the ISL report in any case.
Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter was general secretary and then chief executive of FIFA during the two decades in which it entrusted all its mainstream commercial dealings to ISL.
Rochebloine concluded: “The money managed by FIFA is money that belongs to football and not to its officials.” He stated that no sports organisation should become a place where “corruption and fraud are in practice tolerated and go unpunished”.
The full report – including the new addendum – is due for debate by the plenary Assembly, today.
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