Swiss courts released documents today related to the investigation of kickbacks from FIFA’s bankrupt marketing arm, ISL. The documents outline millions of dollars in kickbacks paid to former FIFA president Joao Havelange and Brazilian ExCo member Ricardo Texieira. In at least one of those cases, Sepp Blatter was aware of the bribe and did not act.
As part of the sale of TV rights to FIFA’s marketing arm ISL, Havelange received about $1 million while Texieira collected at least $13 million in “commissions” paid for steering World Cup TV rights in the direction of ISL.
Though FIFA president Sepp Blatter is not specifically named in the report, it’s clear he knew of the kickbacks. A party identified as “P1″ knew about the payments because money meant for Havelange incorrectly ended up in a FIFA bank account.
The person referred to in the report as P1 is not identified, but it also states that P1 and Havelange had signed the marketing agreement with ISL on behalf of FIFA in 1997. Previous court records show the agreement was signed by Havelange, who was president, and Blatter, who was then general secretary.
Almost immediately upon the reports release, FIFA issued a statement to spin away any hint of Blatter’s involvement in the scandal, hiding behind the lack of direct mention of the president.
“The decision of the Swiss Federal Court also confirms that only two foreign officials will be named as part of the process and that, as previously communicated by the prosecutor of Zug in June 2010, the FIFA president is not involved in the case.”
It’s ridiculous to believe that Blatter is “not involved in the case” (though the report does say he did not receive bribes directly), and few observers are buying FIFA’s spin. Calls for Blatter to resign his post are popping up, though FIFA’s lack of accountability means he has little pressure to step down.
The Swiss report was published despite legal attempts by Havelange and Teixiera to prevent its publication. FIFA previously brokered a deal with the Swiss courts to provide for the anonymity of individuals involved and to delay release until after the case was dropped in December.
It’s so FIFA to point to the lack of Blatter’s name in the report when it was FIFA that negotiated the anonymous labeling of the party that is most definitely Blatter. Sigh.