Blatter: 'I Received $50K In A Bribery Attempt'
In an exclusive interview with Bingesser & Böni of BLICK, FIFA President Sepp Blatter talked about the recently uncovered bribery scandal inside the organization and when he received $50,000 in a bribery attempt.
Question: Have you ever been offered a bribe?
Sepp Blatter: Yes, people tried to bribe me. When I was FIFA General Secretary, the president of a nation's football federation approached me. It was about a World Cup qualification match, the winner advanced to the 1986 World Cup. During his departure, he approached me and said: "It would be great if the referee would be on our side." He then placed an envelope in the pocket of my jacket.
Q: And then?
Blatter: I returned to my office and opened the envelope. There were $50,000 in it. I took the money to my controller. He advised me to open an account in the name of the man who handed me the money and deposit the money in the account. I then informed the person about the account, and 14 days later he withdrew his money. Since then nobody has ever tried to bribe me.
Q: A bribery scandal rattles FIFA, former FIFA president Joao Havelange received CHF1.5M ($1.53M) in bribes. His former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira received even more, CHF12.7M ($12.9M), as a member of the executive committee. You knew about it and silently tolerated it.
Blatter: I have learned about the bribery payments only after the collapse of the marketing agency ISL in '01. It was FIFA that filed charges and got the ball rolling in the case. When I say it is difficult to judge the past with today's standard, then it is only a general assessment. I don't approve of corruption, nor do I support or justify it. That's exactly what I am accused of now. The Federal Court proved all doubters wrong who claimed for years that I received bribes. It is official. I never received any bribes. Now the same people try to attack me on another level. They say, O.K. he did not receive any bribes, but he must have known what was going on. Again, no...
TAKE BACK TITLE: The AP reported that Blatter said FIFA "should remove the honorary presidency" it bestowed on Havelange. Blatter told Sonntags Blick that Havelange "has to go" (AP, 7/15).