Former FIFA president Joao Havelange and one-time Brazilian
soccer leader Ricardo Teixeira received millions of dollars in a
World Cup kickbacks scandal, soccer’s world governing body
confirmed on Wednesday.
FIFA finally published a Swiss court dossier which detailed that
Teixeira received at $13 million from 1992-97 in payments from
World Cup marketing partner ISL. The Swiss-based agency’s collapse
into bankruptcy in 2001 sparked a criminal probe and exposed the
routine practice of buying influence from top sports officials.
The 41-page document showed Havelange received a payment of
about $1 million in 1997, one year before he was succeeded as FIFA
president by Sepp Blatter.
Payments ”attributed” to accounts connected to the two
Brazilians totaled almost $22 million from 1992-2000.
The scale of kickbacks tied to World Cup broadcasting and
marketing 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 soccer reached a settlement deal to close the criminal
FIFA, Havelange and Teixeira repaid $6.1 million to end
prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand’s probe on condition that their
identities remain secret.
Teixeira, who repaid $2.5 million, denied criminal conduct.
Havelange, who paid $500,000, ”did not comment on the accusation
of criminal conduct,” the report said.
Before agreeing to repay $2.5 million, FIFA made its ”consent
conditional” upon dropping proceedings against its former
president and then-serving member of its executive committee, the
FIFA released the document hours after Switzerland’s Supreme
Court threw out an appeal by Havelange and Teixeira to suppress the
dossier, and announced its ruling that media organizations should
receive details of the ISL case.
”FIFA is pleased that the ISL non-prosecution order can now be
made public,” soccer’s world governing body said in a
Still, Hildbrand’s report criticized FIFA as ”a deficient
organization in its enterprise” prior to ISL’s collapse.
Havelange and his former son-in-law Teixeira ”unlawfully used
assets entrusted to (them) for (their) own enrichment several
times. FIFA suffered an equivalent loss.”
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 Wednesday to the Brazilian Football Confederation, which
Teixeira headed for 23 years until March, rang unanswered.
Blatter – who was Havelange’s secretary general for 17 years –
said in October that he wanted to release the ISL dossier despite
his organization seeking to deny reporters access to its contents
at the same time.
Though Blatter has not 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.
Blatter was not specifically named in the redacted document,
though he appeared to be represented several times as ”P1”.
Hildbrand’s report said it was ”not questioned” that FIFA
personnel knew about kickback payments.
The prosecutor wrote of FIFA witnesses confirming that a $1
million payment to Havelange ”was mistakenly transferred to a FIFA
”Not only the CFO (chief financial officer) had knowledge of
this, but also, among others, P1 would also have known about it,”
the report said.
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
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
Teixeira resigned this year as head of Brazil’s soccer
federation and the 2014 World Cup organizing committee, and gave up
his FIFA executive committee seat after 18 years, 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 agency before
its collapse with debts of $300 million. Commercial bribery was not
a crime in Switzerland at the time.
ISL was created in the 1970s and helped fuel the boom in sports
marketing, while also working closely with the International
Hildbrand’s report said the agency funneled money through
Liechtenstein to pay commissions to officials ”favored in order to
promote sports policies and economic goals.”
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 soccer
confederation, was identified for receiving two ISL payments
totaling $130,000 in 2000.
Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil,
contributed to this report.
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