FIFA President Sepp Blatter knew nothing
about bribes paid to his predecessor Joao Havelange by now
defunct marketing partner ISL until after the company collapsed
in 2001, he said in a newspaper interview.
"I did not know until later, after the collapse of ISL in
2001, about the bribery," the head of football's world governing
body told Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick in an interview to be
published on Sunday.
"It was FIFA who then filed a claim at that time and set the
whole ISL case in motion," he added, referring to May 29 2001
when, after ISL collapsed, FIFA filed a claim for 'suspicion of
fraud, embezzlement as well as misappropriation of funds'.
"When I now say that it is difficult to measure the past by
today's standards, this is a generic statement. To me bribery is
unacceptable and I neither tolerate nor seek to justify bribery.
But this is what I am accused of now.
"The Swiss Federal Court has this week proven wrong all
those people, who for years have accused me of having taken
bribes. Now it is on record what I have always said: I have
never taken nor received any bribes," said Blatter.
"Now the same people are trying to attack me from a
different angle: 'Okay, he has not taken any bribes but he must
have known.' “
"Once again, I only knew after the collapse of ISL years
later. And this is because we instigated the whole matter. The
people who attack me now know this is the case but still they
persist. They want me out."
A Swiss prosecutor said in a legal document released this
week that Havelange and former FIFA executive committee member
Ricardo Teixeira took multi-million bribes on World Cup deals in
the 1990s from ISL.
ISL sold the commercial rights to broadcast World Cup
tournaments on behalf of FIFA. It collapsed with debts of around
$300 million in 2001.
Blatter, who has been with FIFA since 1975, and succeeded
Havelange as president in 1998, said on Thursday he knew that
payments were being made. He referred to them as "commission"
and said they were not illegal at the time.
Asked in a question-and-answer session with FIFA's own
website on Thursday if he had known of payments,
Blatter replied: "Known what? That commission was paid? Back
then, such payments could even be deducted from tax as a
"Today, that would be punishable under law. You can't judge
the past on the basis of today's standards."
Havelange is still FIFA's honorary president while Teixeira
quit his post earlier this year, shortly after resigning as
president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
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