GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), Sepp Blatter said Thursday 12 July it was not in his power to sanction honorary president and former president of the football association, Joao Havelange, after the release of documents showing he had received bribes worth millions of pounds.
The Swiss Federal Tribunal revealed documents Wednesday showing that 96-year-old Havelange, and his former son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira, until recently in charge of the 2014 World Cup, had accepted kickbacks between 1992 and 2000 from a now-non-existant sports marketing company, ISL. Teixeira stepped down earlier this year from FIFA’s executive committee and as head of the World Cup’s organizing committee when it appeared that the court documents would be published.
Havelange, who served as a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1963 until 2011, and presided FIFA between 1974 and 1998 before being replaced by Blatter, had received £1 million in 1998, while Teixeira received £8.4 million between 1992 and 1997. Payments of around £14 million were made into accounts attributed to the two of them between 1992 and 2000.
Blatter, who had been secretary general of the organization at the time of Havelange’s presidency, says that the payments were not illegal, according to the Swiss law at the time. On FIFA’s website, he explains “Back then, such payments could even be deducted from tax as a business expense”.
With regard to pressure to sanction Havelange, Blatter says, “I don’t have the power to call him to account. The Congress named him as Honorary President. Only the Congress can decide his future”.
Blatter has long denied any involvement in the ISL bribery scandal.
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