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SBD Global/July 13, 2012/International Football

FIFA Told Investigators That Bribes 'Were Part Of The Salary' For Officials

Former FIFA President João Havelange is under investigation for corruption.
The release of court documents in the corruption investigation of former FIFA President João Havelange and former Brazilian Football Association (CBF) President Ricardo Texeira revealed that FIFA argued bribes are "part of the salary of the majority of the population in South America," according to Paulo Passos of UOL.com.br. FIFA's lawyers argued that "receiving bribes was something cultural between South Americans and Africans." They also claimed that "demanding the return of the money used in the bribery was nearly impossible." Havelange and Teixeira were condemned by Swiss courts of receiving CHF21.9M in bribes from the collapsed marketing agency ISL. In '10, the Brazilians "paid a fine to rid themselves" of convictions. Since then, the process was kept secret. However, on Wednesday, the Swiss Federal Court decided to disclose the documents and "reveal the leaders involved" in the corruption case (UOL.com.br, 7/12). UOL's Padeiro & Passos reported that the documents released by FIFA "explain the decision taken by Ricardo Teixeira of resigning from his position of CBF president in March of this year," after more than two decades in charge. He "knew the details" of the corruption case would be released so he "abandoned the presidencies of the CBF and the 2014 World Cup Local Organising Committee." Since he left the CBF presidency, he "maintains contact with the current leaders and receives a salary of R$105,000 ($51,425) as a special adviser" (UOL.com.br, 7/12). UOL's Perrone reported that pressure is already being put on CBF President Jose Maria Marin to "cut off payments to Texeira" following his involvement in the corruption case. The argument is that the CBF "can not continue using the services of a man that just had his name confirmed by Swiss Courts as being involved in a corruption case" (UOL.com.br, 7/12).

BLATTER TAKES HEAT: In London, David Conn reported that FIFA President Sepp Blatter “faces calls” to step down following his admission that he knew Havelange pocketed "commissions" for awarding World Cup TV deals to ISL. In official statements on FIFA's website, Blatter acknowledged he was "P1," the unnamed FIFA official revealed in a Swiss court document to have known a CHF 1M ($1.1M) payment from ISL was for Havelange. But Blatter said that not only that “he has no intention of resigning over his inaction despite knowing Havelange and Teixeira had pocketed commissions, but that he does not consider he has done anything wrong.” Confirming that "P1" is him, Blatter said that the commissions were not criminal at the time they were paid – between ‘92 and ‘01. Blatter: "You can't judge the past on the basis of today's standards. Otherwise it would end up with moral justice" (GUARDIAN, 7/12).

CHANGE OF CULTURE: REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported that a leading anti-corruption watchdog said that FIFA needs to "change the culture within the organisation and not just introduce new committees if it is to successfully battle corruption in its ranks." Transparency Int'l Senior Adviser on Sport Sylvia Schenk said, "It shows once again that it is not about working on structure and having better rules, it's about the culture and spirit and FIFA has not yet begun to work on that." Schenk added: "It showed the culture and spirit that was prevalent within FIFA until only last year, when there was a small change. It was accepted that officials had taken money and received money in a way which was contradictory to their own obligations towards FIFA" (REUTERS, 7/12).
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Europe, FIFA, International Football

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