Free Kick: Bribes scandal: Fifa caught on the off side

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Old 26-Oct-2011
Free Kick: Bribes scandal: Fifa caught on the off side

Hiding behind the bizarre vagaries of Swiss law, Fifa have until now shamefully managed to hide the names of their executives who received bribes from the doomed ISL organisation. In 2010, a Swiss court decided that these two executives had indeed pocketed bribes worth 3.9 million (Dh22.85 million) which they were now obliged, with Fifa, to pay in so-called reparation. We all know about the rigid secrecy of Swiss bank accounts, but this was surely a legal piece of sheer obfuscation.

But now Sepp Blatter, evidently hoping to protect his own position, has agreed for the relevant court documents to be released, though nothing will be done he says until 2013 after an independent body has examined them. The damning revelation being that one of the executives involved is none other than Joao Havelange, whose tenure of the Fifa presidency ran from 1974, when he unseated the worthy Stanley Rous, until 1998, was synonymous with suspect dealings.

Returned to power every four years by the docile, passive, seemingly unconcerned association members of Fifa, Havelange has for many years been able to sit back and enjoy the millions which he made out of his presidency. Back in 1994, Blatter whom he plucked out of relative obscurity, bringing him to Fifa and making him secretary at the expense of the honest Helmut Kaser was complaining about Havelange standing in his way for the presidency; but he eventually got it in 1998, surprisingly gathering enough votes to defeat the clear favourite, Sweden's Lennart Johansson.

That Blatter is an essential part of Fifa's vexed problem is beyond belief. But the fact that he is now prepared to impugn, in Havelange, the very man who made him, shows the extent of his desperation. Meanwhile, there is much alarm in England over the upcoming 2012 Olympic football tournament. Stuart Pearce, manager of the British squad, is thundering against the high probability that he will have to deploy an all-English rather than a British team.

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