Havelange quits FIFA post following bribe report

ESPN staff
April 30, 2013
Joao Havelange was FIFA president for 24 years © PA Photos

Joao Havelange has resigned his position as honorary FIFA president after the governing body's ethics committee named him as having received bribes.

Havelange, 96, served as FIFA president between 1974 and 1998, before being replaced by Sepp Blatter.

However, a Swiss prosecutor's report was published last year that stated the Brazilian had received illicit funds in the 1990s from World Cup broadcasting deals. It said $22 million had been paid by FIFA's former marketing partner ISL, a Swiss-based marketing agency that collapsed due to debts in 2001.

An ethics committee report released on Tuesday has now announced that Havelange, along with Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira, did receive bribes.

Leoz had been president of CONMEBOL before resigning due to health reasons earlier this month. Ricardo Teixeira, Havelange's ex-son-in-law and the former head of Brazil's 2014 World Cup organising committee, also cited health reasons when he resigned in March last year.

Blatter has been criticised for his "clumsy" handling of the affair.

He had been general secretary at FIFA when he authorised the transfer of 1.5 million Swiss francs (£1 million) to Havelange after ISL had directed the funds to the governing body, rather than its president, in error.

However, Blatter told the ethics investigation that he "did not suspect the payment was a commission" and he has been cleared of criminal or ethical misconduct.

The report by FIFA Adjudicatory Chamber chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert read: "It must be questioned ... 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.

"President Blatter's conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules. 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 issued a statement following the report saying he believed he has introduced a system to prevent any such recurrence in the future.

It read: "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."

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