Fifa: Legal problems delay kickbacks case document

 

Lausanne


A key promise in Sepp Blatter's anti-corruption drive was threatened today when Fifa postponed publication of a Swiss court document naming football officials who took millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup broadcast deals. 

Fifa said "legal measures taken" by a party involved in the 10-year-old ISL scandal prevented it from releasing the court papers on 17 December.

"These measures request another thorough legal analysis which will postpone the envisaged publication of the ISL file," Fifa said in a statement.

Fifa did not identify which third party has stalled the process.

The BBC has reported that the document implicates former Fifa President Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, the 2014 World Cup organizing committee president.

On Monday, Havelange's resignation as an IOC member was confirmed days before the Olympic body was likely to suspend the 95-year-old Brazilian, who led Fifa for 24 years until Blatter succeeded him as president in 1998.

The IOC's leadership was expected to act on an ethics commission inquiry into alleged payments made by the ISL marketing agency before its 2001 collapse with debts of $300 million.

Dealing with the ISL case became a signature test of Blatter's promised willingness to reform Fifa and world football after a slew of scandals involving bribery, vote-rigging and ticket scams.

Blatter promised in October to publish the document after his executive committee, including Teixeira, meets Dec. 16-17 in Tokyo.

"It was my strong will to make the ISL file fully transparent at this meeting," Blatter said in a statement. "I have now been advised that as a result of the objection of a third party to such transparency it will take more time to overcome the respective legal hurdles.

"This does not change my stance at all. I remain fully committed to publishing the files as soon as possible."

Blatter's promise of publication was initially met with skepticism by veteran Fifa watchers. However, Blatter and Fifa officials insisted in recent weeks that the 41-page German-language document from the Zug court would be translated into English, French and Spanish and then published.

The document details a settlement announced in June 2010 whereby senior football officials admitted taking kickbacks and repaid 5.5 million Swiss francs (then $6.1 million). The officials repaid the money on condition that their identities remained anonymous.

Blatter has said he was cleared of any wrongdoing in all aspects of the ISL case. Still, the court document could give details of his awareness of kickbacks being paid at a time when commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland. 

 

AP

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