LONDON: The history of Joao Havelange’s departure from FIFA has come in for intensive rewriting by UEFA president Michel Platini.
Havelange resigned as honorary president of the world football federation last month after confirmation that he had accepted millions of dollars in bribes FIFA’s former marketing partner, ISL.
The cash had changed hands during the veteran Brazilian’s 24-year reign as executive president of FIFA. This ended with his retirement in 1998 when he was ‘enobled’ and succeeded by Sepp Blatter.
Havelange also quit the International Olympic Committee over the issue last December. That prompted suggestions that next week’s FIFA Congress should strip him of his honorary status.
Havelange pre-empted any such action, however, by offering his resignation himself in March. Critics considered he had stepped down in disgrace.
Platini did not see it that way.
Challenged over the Havelange issue after UEFA Congress in London, he indicated that both the fact and timing of the resignation had been negotiated with Blatter who had served for 16 years as Havelange’s general secretary.
Platini said: “He proposed to Mr Blatter to decide whether it would be a problem for him to remain as honorary president since his name was involved with the ISL affair.
“Then they took their decision and I believe Mr Havelange tried to help FIFA by withdrawing his name in a moment which was difficult with FIFA.
“I tip my hat to Mr Havelange. He is a legend in football even though he has made mistakes. He remains a legend and I think it is a pity he should withdraw at this point.
“But, once again, he has rendered a service unto FIFA and I pay tribute to Mr Havelange.”