x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange took bribes from marketing firm, report reveals

Court documents show former world football chief received more than Dh5m from International Sport and Leisure before the company's collapse in 2001.

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange
Former FIFA president Joao Havelange

Former world football chief Joao Havelange received enormous bribes from FIFA's discredited former marketing company, court documents released in Switzerland reveal.

The 96-year-old Brazilian - who was FIFA president for 24 years before Sepp Blatter took the role in 1998 - pocketed at least 1.5m Swiss francs (Dh5.6m), while FIFA executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira at least 12.74m Swiss francs (Dh47.7m).

The bribes, made by International Sport and Leisure (ISL), were detailed in documents made public by Switzerland's supreme court yesterday.

FIFA's discredited Swiss-based marketing partner collapsed in 2001 with debts of around $300 million.

FIFA published the Swiss court's report on its website and in a statement world football's governing body emphasised that while Havelange and Teixeira were identified Blatter was not.

"The decision of the Swiss Federal Court also confirms that only two foreign officials will be named as part of the process and that.....the FIFA president is not involved in the case," the statement stressed.

The court documents however did reveal that FIFA chiefs had knowledge that Havelange and Teixeira had been paid bribes by ISL.

It also disclosed that FIFA had agreed to pay 2.5million Swiss francs in compensation - but only on the condition that criminal proceedings against Havelange and Teixeira were dropped.

Havelange, who remains FIFA's honorary president, stepped down after a 48-year-spell as a member of the International Olympic Committee last December just days before an ethics hearing into his links with ISL.

Havelange was accused by a documentary in 2010 of kickbacks from ISL for granting lucrative World Cup contracts.

Havelange, who became an IOC member in 1963, was FIFA president between 1974-98 before he was replaced by Blatter, his long time FIFA secretary general.

In May he was discharged after two months in hospital in Rio de Janeiro where he was being treated for an ankle infection and cardiac and pulmonary problems.

He is the former father-in-law of Teixeira, who recently resigned as head of Brazilian football and as chief of Brazil's organising committee for the 2014 World Cup following a spate of corruption allegations.

Havelange was instrumental in bringing the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro and to South America for the first time when in 2009 the IOC elected the city as the 2016 host.

At the vote in Copenhagen he famously invited IOC members to his 100th birthday party on Copacabana beach in 2016 should they award the Games to Rio.

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