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FIFA Advisor Pieth Backs Call to Publish Payments Document

An anti-corruption adviser to FIFA says he agrees with a European rights watchdog’s call for soccer’s governing body to identify officials who took millions of dollars in payments.

Two senior executives got payments of at least 14.2 million Swiss francs ($15.5 million) out of a total of 122.6 million Swiss francs paid by FIFA’s now-defunct marketing partner ISL between 1989 and 1998, according to testimony in an April 23 report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The officials weren’t named in the report by French national assembly member Francois Rochebloine. Swiss magistrate Thomas Hildbrand gave Rocheblione details of his investigation into the 2001 collapse of ISL, which sold FIFA’s World Cup television rights. FIFA President Sepp Blatter had promised to publish the report more than a year ago. Its publication has been held up by appeals from two individuals named as recipients of the money.

Mark Pieth, a Swiss professor who heads a 13-member panel formed by Zurich-based FIFA to suggest changes, said his Independent Governance Committee has also demanded the ISL document be published.

“It has called upon the Swiss authorities to fully disclose the document as soon as legally possible,” Pieth said in an e-mailed statement.

The Council of Europe quotes Hildbrand as saying there isn’t any “absolute secrecy requirement” to a 2010 settlement that identifies officials who admitted taking funds.

“It would therefore appear that FIFA is able to publish the document in question without waiting for a decision from the Swiss Federal Court,” the report said. Pieth didn’t respond to a question asking whether he agreed the ISL settlement could be published without the court’s permission.

“FIFA is not a party at the Federal Court in Switzerland since we do not object to the publication of the ISL/ISMM closing order,” FIFA said in an e-mailed statement. “The decision regarding the publication of the closing order is now up to the Swiss Federal Court.”

FIFA officials meet next month for its annual Congress in Budapest, where it’s expected to make changes to its ethics committee, which was criticized by both Pieth and Council of Europe.

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