x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Fifa honorary president Joao Havelange resigns after bribery allegations

Sepp Blatter, president of football's governing body, has been cleared by an ethics committee report.

Joao Havelange, seen here in a 2010 photograph, has been named in a bribery scandal along with two other former officials. Felipe Dana / AP Photo
Joao Havelange, seen here in a 2010 photograph, has been named in a bribery scandal along with two other former officials. Felipe Dana / AP Photo

Joao Havelange, the Brazilian who ruled Fifa for more than two decades, has resigned as honorary president of the world governing body after being named as having received bribes.

The long-awaited reported by Fifa's ethics committee into the scandal involving collapsed marketing partners ISL has named Havelange and two former executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz as receiving bribes. All three have since resigned from Fifa.

The report by Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of the Fifa Adjudicatory Chamber, also calls current Fifa president Sepp Blatter's handling of the scandal "clumsy" but says it did not breach ethics rules.

"Mr Havelange has long held solely an honorary position, which does not qualify him as an 'official' under the code of ethics," the report states. "Further, Mr Havelange resigned his position as honorary president effective 18.04.2013."

Blatter also issued a statement welcoming that he had been cleared of misconduct.

"I also note with satisfaction that this report confirms that 'President Blatter's conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules'," Blater said. "I have no doubt that Fifa, thanks to the governance reform process that I proposed, now has the mechanisms and means to ensure that such an issue - which has caused untold damage to the reputation of our institution - does not happen again."

The ethics report does not state the total sum of bribes paid, but it says they took place over eight years between 1992 and May 2000.

"From money that passed through the ISMM/ISL Group, it is certain that not inconsiderable amounts were channelled to former Fifa president Havelange and to his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira as well as to Dr Nicolas Leoz, whereby there is no indication that any form of service was given in return by them.

"These payments were apparently made via front companies in order to cover up the true recipient and are to be qualified as 'commissions', known today as 'bribes'."

Court documents state Havelange, now aged 96, received at least £1million (Dh 5.69m) and Teixeira at least £8.4million, and in total the pair may have received up to £14.5m. Leoz, now aged 84, was named in court as having received at least £80,000.

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