SBD/Issue 121/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Judge Reveals Almost $135M In Alleged Bribes To FIFA Officials

A Swiss judge yesterday during a "fraud trial into the bankruptcy" of Int'l Sports & Leisure (ISL), FIFA's former marketing agency, revealed that more than US$134.4M was "allegedly paid to leading sports officials in 'bribes' to secure valuable marketing and television rights contracts," according to David Bond of the London TELEGRAPH. ISL in '01 "collapsed" with debts surpassing US$311.7M, and after a four-year investigation into ISL, six former company execs including former Chair Jean Marie Weber were "finally accused this week of a series of charges including fraud, embezzlement and the falsification of documents." Paraguayan FIFA Exec Committee member Nicolas Leoz was "found to have received two separate payments from ISL totaling" about US$173,096, making him the "only official of any note who has emerged from the inquiries." Leoz' name was released to the court Tuesday on a "list of payments made to sports officials via bank accounts in offshore tax havens" including Liechtenstein. The released list showed that almost US$18.3M had been paid to sports officials between '99-'01. However, Bond notes because none of the defendants are facing bribery charges, the trial is "unlikely to reveal the identity of the officials who received the sweeteners to secure contracts worth billions of pounds" (London TELEGRAPH, 3/13).

OFFSIDES? ESPNSOCCERNET.com's Jon Carter wrote the decision of the Int'l FA Board (IFAB) to "halt work on developing technology to aid in goal-line controversy was dealt with deplorably." The IFAB voted "against continuing experiments for the foreseeable future" on the Hawk-Eye technology. Carter wrote FIFA likes to "project an image of progression, while the reality is that they would rather hark back to older and, in their view, happier, times" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 3/11).

BYE BYE BECKHAM? ESPN's Jim Rome, on reports that David Beckham wants a team to buy out his Galaxy contract so he can return to Europe: "Soccer may be the world sport, but here it ranks right behind darts and just ahead of foosball. It doesn't matter now and it never will. The fact the greatest footballer of them all came here and didn't move the needle at all proves that once again" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 3/12).

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