The FBI is investigating the role of FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a $100 million bribes scandal ©Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the role of FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a $100 million (£66 million/€92 million) bribes scandal after he appeared to be implicated by his predecessor João Havelange in a BBC Panorama documentary.

In a letter obtained by the FBI, Havelange claims Blatter had "full knowledge of all activities" relating to a scandal surrounding the now defunct sports marketing company ISL - which involved the payment of $100 million to officials including Havelange and former FIFA executive Ricardo Teixeira - and was "always apprised to them".  

The letter was forwarded to Swiss authorities with a request for help, prior to the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich in May.

In a covering note, the FBI asks for the file of an earlier Swiss investigation into the ISL scandal and says "among other things, the prosecutor is investigating Havelange's statements implicating Blatter and appearing to exculpate Havelange’s son-in-law, Teixeira, in the ISL matter".

In 2010, Blatter suppressed a Swiss legal finding that both Havelange and Teixeria had received bribes from ISL.

Havelange’s letter, which was seemingly written after the court case in the Swiss city of Zug, appears to claim that payments to him were above board.

"During the period of time in which I was FIFA President, Mr Joseph Blatter was the secretary general, I maintained commercial relationships with sports marketing companies which were under my economic control, and, as a result of these relationships, I received remuneration, in accordance with FIFA regulations, and this was the object of a judicial proceeding settlement in Switzerland without acknowledgement of any guilt," writes the Brazilian.

"I clarify that all expenses for the mentioned proceeding, including attorneys, were paid by FIFA.

"I emphasise that Mr Joseph Blatter had full knowledge of all activities described above and was always apprised to them."

Sepp Blatter replaced João Havelange (right) as FIFA President in 1998
Sepp Blatter replaced João Havelange (right) as FIFA President in 1998 ©Getty Images

In 2013, Blatter told a FIFA Ethics Committee inquiry he was unaware of the bribery and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

That same year, Havelange resigned from his position as the Honorary President of FIFA after the Ethics Committee’s report confirmed that he and Teixeira had taken a series of bribes over an eight-year period.

The report stated that Blatter had been "clumsy" rather than "criminal" in returning a $1 million (£664,000/€926,000) bribe meant for Havelange.

Teixeira was one of three former heads of the Brazilian Football Association named among an additional 16 people charged with corruption offences by the United States Department of Justice last week.

Blatter, who declined to respond to any of the latest allegations put to him, is currently serving a provisional 90-day ban from world football’s governing body and faces a hearing in front of FIFA Ethics Committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert starting from December 16.

The Panorama programme, due to be broadcast tonight at 8.30pm UK time, also claims that Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup cost £117 million ($176.2 million/€163.2 million).

The figure was given to former English Football Association chairman Lord Triesman by sources close to British intelligence.

It is six times more than what England spent on its bid for the 2018 World Cup, and almost 12 times the United States’ outlay on its 2022 bid.

Former England international Gary Lineker, who was part of his country's 2018 World Cup bid team, told Panorama: "It makes me feel nauseous at the levels of corruption in a sport that has been a huge part of my life and is a huge part of many people's lives right around the world.

"Part of me hopes that with everything being so clearly rotten, we can come out and somehow start again and correct it."

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