European politicians pour scorn over Sepp Blatter's handling of ISL scandal

Tuesday, 24 April 2012
By Andrew Warshaw

sepp blatter_24-04-12April 24 - Sepp Blatter has been accused of sweeping the notorious ISL bribery scandal under the table in a damning new report that heaps fresh embarrassment on the FIFA President and world football's governing body.

The report, published by the Council of Europe based on testimony given by Swiss prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand, says ISL, FIFA's former marketing agency, paid one official at least 12.74 million Swiss francs (£8.6 million/$13.9 million/€10.6 million) and another 1.5 million Swiss francs (£991,448/$1.6 million/€1.2 million) in exchange for World Cup television deals.

The report said it was "difficult to imagine that Mr Blatter (pictured) would not have known about this," even if he did not personally take any money from the company which went bankrupt in 2001.

The ISL case has cast a shadow over much of Blatter's 14-year Presidency, and has flared up again during his drive to reform FIFA after a series of corruption scandals.

Under the reform process, Blatter, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), at first promised to release the all-important dossier detailing exactly who among the FIFA hierarchy took kickbacks but has repeatedly backtracked, arguing that this is not possible while an appeal is pending to Switzerland's Supreme Court by unidentified parties.

They are widely reported to be former FIFA President João Havelange – currently hospitalised in Brazil – and his one-time son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira (pictured below), the Brazilian powerbroker who resigned all his footballing duties last month citing unspecified health issues.

Ricardo Teixeira_24-04-12
The Council of Europe took issue with Blatter's argument and said there was no reason why FIFA could not reveal the all-important contents once and for all.

"I believe it is extraordinary that [Blatter] did nothing to make public all the information which FIFA had or has, and took no steps whether internally or via the courts to enable FIFA to obtain reparation," wrote report author François Rochebloine, a French National Assembly member.

"Mr Blatter was technical director of FIFA from 1975 to 1981, FIFA general secretary from 1981 to 1998 and has been its President ever since.

"Since FIFA was aware of significant sums paid to certain of its officials, it is difficult to imagine that Mr Blatter would not have known about this."

He urged European lawmakers to call on FIFA to make the ISL dossier public – and also to investigate how Blatter was re-elected last June after rival candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam pulled out after being charged in the infamous cash-for-votes scandal.

The former Asian football chief is now awaiting the outcome of his appeal against his lifetime ban.

"A detailed and exhaustive investigation is imperative," Rochebloine wrote.

"We have the right to know the truth, and ascertaining the truth can trouble only those who have something to hide.

"Mr Blatter is the President of FIFA, but he is not FIFA and he should not confuse what is in his own interest with what is in the interest of the organisation he is supposed to serve.

"As Mr Hildbrand clearly explained, FIFA was accused as an undertaking under Swiss law, but it was also a victim: the money paid under-the-counter to certain unscrupulous officials should have been paid to FIFA."

Contact the writer of this story at andrew.warshaw@insidethegames.biz


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