Sepp Blatter faces calls to resign as Fifa president over handling of bribery scandal

Joao Havelange resigns as honorary president of Fifa after findings of an ethics investigation are published

Fifa president Sepp Blatter faced calls to resign today over the findings of an ethics investigation into a bribery scandal involving leading football officials and collapsed marketing partner ISL.

Blatter's handling of the case was labelled "clumsy" but not misconduct by the investigation - though it questioned whether he knew or should have known about the millions of pounds of bribes paid to his predecessor Joao Havelange and two other South American Fifa members.

Havelange has resigned as Fifa's honorary president in the wake of the findings, it emerged today, and Damian Collins, an MP who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee and who has led a campaign for Fifa reform, insists Blatter should follow suit.

Collins told the Press Association: "Sepp Blatter should himself resign for his failure to expose the wrongdoing sooner, and to take action earlier against those who had done wrong.

"In the light of this report, it is even more incredible that the Fifa executive committee continue to resist calls, from its own advisors, for greater independent scrutiny of its decisions, and the financial interests of its members.

"The impression created by this report is one of an attempted cover-up by Fifa of this massive corruption scandal motivated by the desire to protect some of its leading officials."

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

The report by Fifa Adjudicatory Chamber chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert states: "Mr Havelange has long held solely an honorary position, which does not qualify him as an 'official' under the code of ethics. Further, Mr Havelange resigned his position as honorary president effective 18.04.2013."

Eckert does question Blatter's role in the scandal, however.

He states: "It must be questioned, however, whether President Blatter knew or should have known over the years before the bankruptcy of ISL that ISL had made payments (bribes) to other Fifa officials."

The report states that in 1997, Blatter authorised the transfer of 1.5million Swiss francs (£1million) to Havelange after ISL mistakenly sent it to Fifa. But Blatter, who was then general secretary of the organisation when Havelange was president, told the ethics investigation "at that time he did not suspect the payment was a commission".

"President Blatter's conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules," says the report. "The conduct of President Blatter may have been clumsy because there could be an internal need for clarification, but this does not lead to any criminal or ethical misconduct."

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

He said: "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'.

"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 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 and Teixeira at least £8.4million, and in total the pair may have received up to £14.5m. Leoz, from Paraguay and now aged 84, was named in court as having received at least £80,000.

Fifa's ethics committee meanwhile banned Sri Lanka's executive committee member Vernon Manilal Fernando for eight years.

A statement from Fifa did not give details of the reason for the ban other than Fernando was "found guilty of several breaches of the Fifa Code of Ethics".

Fernando, 63, has been a member of the Fifa executive since 2011 is a former close ally of Mohamed Bin Hamman, who was banned for life in December for conflicts on interest while president of the Asian Football Confederation.

Labour's shadow sports minister Clive Efford MP called for a completely independent inquiry into the ISL scandal.

Efford said: "Fifa will always remain under suspicion of corruption at the very top of the organisation unless there is an entirely independent investigation into the payments relating to the ISL contract.

"We can only conclude from the fact that no one in Fifa questioned why a major TV contractor paid £1million to President Havelange that it was commonplace for backhanders to be accepted by high-ranking officials within the organisation.

"The £1million was paid Havelange c/o Fifa. Fifa acted like a clearing bank and simply passed the money on with no questions asked.

"It is extremely disappointing to see these people lining their pockets when volunteers that run grassroots clubs are desperate for funds. The culprits must be identified and hounded out of our game."

PA

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable