Ex-FIFA President Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, a former executive board member of soccer’s governing body, received millions of dollars from the collapsed ISL marketing agency, court documents revealed.
The Swiss Federal Court yesterday ordered the release of the documents, which relate to a corruption investigation involving the two men. They’d sought to block publication after journalists requested the court papers, and Zurich-based FIFA published them on its website after the ruling.
Havelange was paid about $1 million by ISL and his former son-in-law Teixeira at least $13 million, with the pair in total getting as much as $22 million, according to the documents.
Havelange didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment, while Teixeira couldn’t immediately be reached. Brazil’s soccer federation declined to comment, according to an official at the organization’s press office in Rio de Janeiro.
In March, Teixeira, 65, resigned from FIFA’s executive committee, a week after quitting as head of the Brazilian federation and the group organizing the 2014 World Cup. In 2001, Brazil’s Congress investigated Teixeira over alleged irregularities. Separately, the British Broadcasting Corp. named him as a beneficiary of bribes paid by ISL. He denied all the allegations.
The BBC’s “Panorama” program said in 2010 that Havelange, 96, received $1 million from ISL, which owned World Cup television rights and collapsed with debts of $300 million in 2001, prompting an investigation by the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission. He denied the allegations.
Havelange, the longest-serving member of the IOC, resigned from the organization in December last year.
A Zug court heard testimony in 2010 that FIFA officials benefited from bribes paid by its now-bankrupt marketing partner ISL for almost two decades.
Zug called off its proceedings against ISL after the group agreed to pay 5.5 million Swiss francs ($5.6 million) compensation, of which 2.5 million francs would go to charities, according to a statement by the canton’s law enforcement agency published on its website last year.
FIFA asked Swiss anti-corruption specialist Mark Pieth to help reform its statutes following a year of turmoil in which several top executives were either found guilty or accused of wrongdoing.
“I’m very happy it’s finally out,” Pieth said of the released documents in a telephone interview. “Now the world’s public has a chance to look at it and form its own opinion.”
FIFA welcomed the federal court’s decision that the documents be published, saying in a statement that it was not a party to the appeal process dealt with by the court.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter long maintained he would not be named as a recipient of money from ISL. As president and before that general secretary of FIFA, he’s occupied the top two roles for a total of 31 years. The documents suggest he may well have known the identities of colleagues who accepted cash.
“The finding that FIFA had knowledge of the bribery payments to persons within its organs is not questioned,” the court documents said.
Blatter was elected for a fourth four-year term as president unopposed last year. His only rival withdrew, a day before he was to face an investigation for alleged bribery.
Blatter said on his Twitter account yesterday that he was pleased the file had been released and that it confirmed he was not among those named.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com