Sport

FIFA names Havelange, Teixeira in kickbacks case

Thursday, July 12, 2012    

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GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) — Former FIFA president Joao Havelange and one-time Brazilian football leader Ricardo Teixeira received millions of dollars in a World Cup kickbacks scandal, football's world governing body confirmed yesterday.

FIFA finally published a Swiss court dossier which detailed that Teixeira received at least 12.74 million Swiss francs (now $13 million) from 1992-97 in payments from marketing agency ISL, which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001.

The 41-page document shows Havelange received a payment of 1.5 million Swiss francs in 1997 (then around $1 million) when he was still

FIFA president.

Payments "attributed" to accounts connected to the two Brazilians totalled almost 22 million Swiss francs from

1992-2000.

The scale of kickbacks tied to World Cup commercial deals was revealed in a report by a prosecutor in the Swiss canton (state) of Zug who investigated Havelange and Teixeira for "embezzlement, or alternatively disloyal management".

The document had been blocked from publication since June 2010, soon after prosecutors, FIFA and two of the most powerful men in world football reached a settlement deal to close the criminal investigation.

FIFA, Havelange and Teixeira had repaid 5.5 million Swiss francs (then $6.1 million) to end prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand's probe on condition that their identities remain secret.

FIFA released the document hours after Switzerland's Supreme Court threw out an appeal by Havelange and Teixeira, and announced its ruling that media organisations should receive details of the ISL case.

"FIFA is pleased that the ISL non-prosecution order can now be made public," football's world governing body said in a statement.

Still, Hildbrand's report criticised FIFA as "a deficient organisation in its enterprise" prior to ISL's collapse.

The report revealed that, in January 2010, FIFA insisted that investigations into its former president and then-serving member of its executive committee should be dropped as a condition of paying into the settlement deal.

FIFA made "consent conditional upon discontinuance of the proceedings", the report showed.

Havelange and his former son-in-law Teixeira "unlawfully used assets entrusted to (them) for (their) own enrichment several times".

After helping broker the anonymity deal, FIFA was also a party to earlier appeals to block publication until dropping out of the case last December.

Calls yesterday to the Brazilian Football Confederation, which Texeira headed for 23 years until March, rang unanswered.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter — who was secretary general for 17 years before succeeding Havelange in 1998 — said last October that he wanted to release the ISL dossier despite his organisation seeking to deny reporters access to its contents at the same time.

Though Blatter has never been accused of accepting unethical payments, the ISL affair has clouded much of his 14-year FIFA presidency. Seeking closure has become central in his promised mission to improve FIFA's image and governance.

Havelange was FIFA president for 24 years and remains honorary president. The 96-year-old Brazilian has been treated extensively in a Rio de Janeiro hospital this year for a bacterial infection.

He resigned his 48-year IOC membership in December, citing health reasons, days before the Olympic body was due to sanction him following its own investigation into wrongdoing connected to ISL.

Teixeira resigned this year as head of Brazil's football federation and the 2014 World Cup organising committee, and gave up his FIFA executive committee seat, citing unspecified health and personal reasons.

The ISL scandal stemmed from alleged payments of tens of millions of dollars to sports officials made by the Swiss-based agency before its collapse with debts of $300 million. Commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland at the time.

Six former ISL executives stood trial in 2008 and were cleared of charges relating to fraud.

In court evidence, FIFA executive committee member Nicolas Leoz, a Paraguayan who still heads the South American football confederation, was identified for receiving two ISL payments totaling $130,000 in 2000.

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