FIFA says pair received kickbacks
GENEVA -- Former FIFA president Joao Havelange and one-time Brazilian football leader Ricardo Teixeira received millions of dollars in a World Cup kickbacks scandal, soccer's world governing body confirmed on Wednesday.
FIFA finally published a Swiss court dossier that detailed Teixeira received at $13 million from 1992-97 in payments from World Cup marketing partner ISL. The Swiss-based agency's collapse into bankruptcy in 2001 sparked a criminal probe and exposed the routine practice of buying influence from top sports officials.
The 41-page document showed Havelange received a payment of about $1 million in 1997, one year before he was succeeded as FIFA president by Sepp Blatter.
Payments "attributed" to accounts connected to the two Brazilians totaled almost $22 million from 1992-2000.
The scale of kickbacks tied to World Cup broadcasting and marketing deals was revealed in a report by a prosecutor in the Swiss canton (state) of Zug who investigated Havelange and Teixeira for "embezzlement, or alternatively disloyal management."
The document had been blocked from publication since June 2010, soon after prosecutors, FIFA and two of the most powerful men in world football reached a settlement deal to close the criminal investigation.
FIFA, Havelange and Teixeira repaid $6.1 million to end prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand's probe on condition that their identities remain secret.
Teixeira, who repaid $2.5 million, denied criminal conduct. Havelange, who paid $500,000, "did not comment on the accusation of criminal conduct," the report said.
Before agreeing to repay $2.5 million, FIFA made its "consent conditional" upon dropping proceedings against its former president and then-serving member of its executive committee, the report showed.
FIFA released the document hours after Switzerland's Supreme Court threw out an appeal by Havelange and Teixeira to suppress the dossier, and announced its ruling that media organizations should receive details of the ISL case.
"FIFA is pleased that the ISL non-prosecution order can now be made public," soccer's world governing body said in a statement.
Still, Hildbrand's report criticized FIFA as "a deficient organization in its enterprise" prior to ISL's collapse.
Havelange and his former son-in-law Teixeira "unlawfully used assets entrusted to (them) for (their) own enrichment several times. FIFA suffered an equivalent loss."
After helping broker the anonymity deal, FIFA was also a party to earlier appeals to block publication until dropping out of the case last December.
Calls Wednesday to the Brazilian Football Confederation, which Teixeira headed for 23 years until March, rang unanswered.
Blatter -- who was Havelange's secretary general for 17 years -- said in October that he wanted to release the ISL dossier despite his organization seeking to deny reporters access to its contents at the same time.
Though Blatter has not been accused of accepting unethical payments, the ISL affair has clouded much of his 14-year FIFA presidency. Seeking closure has become central in his promised mission to improve FIFA's image and governance.
Blatter was not specifically named in the redacted document, though he appeared to be represented several times as "P1".
Hildbrand's report said it was "not questioned" that FIFA personnel knew about kickback payments.
The prosecutor wrote of FIFA witnesses confirming that a $1 million payment to Havelange "was mistakenly transferred to a FIFA account.
"Not only the CFO (chief financial officer) had knowledge of this, but also, among others, P1 would also have known about it," the report said.
Havelange was FIFA president for 24 years and remains honorary president. The 96-year-old Brazilian has been treated extensively in a Rio de Janeiro hospital this year for a bacterial infection.
He resigned his 48-year IOC membership in December, citing health reasons, days before the Olympic body was due to sanction him following its own investigation into wrongdoing connected to ISL.
Teixeira resigned this year as head of Brazil's soccer federation and the 2014 World Cup organizing committee, and gave up his FIFA executive committee seat after 18 years, citing unspecified health and personal reasons.
The ISL scandal stemmed from alleged payments of tens of millions of dollars to sports officials made by the agency before its collapse with debts of $300 million. Commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland at the time.
ISL was created in the 1970s and helped fuel the boom in sports marketing, while also working closely with the International Olympic Committee.
Hildbrand's report said the agency funneled money through Liechtenstein to pay commissions to officials "favored in order to promote sports policies and economic goals."
Six former ISL executives stood trial in 2008 and were cleared of charges relating to fraud.
In court evidence, FIFA executive committee member Nicolas Leoz, a Paraguayan who still heads the South American football confederation, was identified for receiving two ISL payments totaling $130,000 in 2000.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
- Ribery, Benzema charged with soliciting minor
- Ex-U.S. coach denies Solo's shoving allegation
- Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta UEFA award finalists
- Kompany: Van Persie would boost any team