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Havelange named in ISL bribery investigation

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange was paid huge sums in bribes by collapsed marketing company ISL, court documents have revealed.

Havelange received at least 1.5m Swiss francs (986,000) and executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira at least 12.74m SFr (8.4m).The Swiss prosecutor’s report, published by FIFA, reveals the pair may have received up to 21.9m SFr (14.4m).

They are the only two FIFA officials named in the report. Switzerland’s supreme court ordered the release of the documents identifying which senior officials took millions of dollars in payments from ISL, FIFA’s marketing partner until it collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001.

The papers were released to five media organisations, one of which is the BBC, and detail the court settlement which closed a criminal probe of the ISL case in May 2010.

In November that year, the BBC’s Panorama programme alleged that three senior FIFA officials, including Teixeira, took bribes from Swiss-based ISL in the 1990s, though commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland at the time.

A statement issued by the BBC said: “A year long legal battle by BBC Panorama to force publication of documents related to a confidential police investigation into bribery and corruption at FIFA was vindicated today.

“In Panorama – FIFA’s Dirty Secrets in November 2010, investigative reporter Andrew Jennings named the two officials as recipients of bribes from the Swiss ISL sports marketing company, which was repeatedly given lucrative World Cup marketing rights by FIFA.”

The documents concerning Havelange also revealed that officials repaid 5.5m Swiss francs (3.6m) to end the prosecution office’s investigation on condition their identities remained secret.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in October 2011 that he wanted to release the ISL dossier, despite his organisation seeking to deny access to its contents at the same time.

“FIFA is pleased that the ISL non-prosecution order can now be made public,” football’s world governing body said in a statement.

Havelange was FIFA president for 24 years before being succeeded by Blatter in 1998. The 96-year-old Brazilian, who remains FIFA’s honorary president, has been treated extensively in a Rio de Janeiro hospital this year for septic arthritis.

He resigned his 48-year International Olympic Commitee membership, citing health reasons, in December, days before the Olympic body was due to sanction him following its own investigation into wrongdoing connected to ISL.

Teixeira, Havelange’s former son-in-law, this year resigned as head of Brazil’s football federation and the 2014 World Cup organising committee, and gave up his FIFA executive committee seat, citing unspecified health and personal reasons. (BBC)

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