Havelange, Teixeira and others have questions to answer over ISL affair
Published: 23.07.12 / Written by: David Gold
So the news few would have been shocked to hear about is finally public.
Joao Havelange, the former FIFA President, and his ex son in law Ricardo Teixeira, the now departed Brazilian football chief, were named last week as the men accused of taking bribes from FIFA’s former marketing partner ISL.
ISL collapsed with huge debts over a decade ago, but were long accused of bribing various officials since its rise after being set up by Horst Drassler in the 1980s. Its rise coincided with that of FIFA’s financial growth, not to mention that of the International Olympic Committee, but its demise is linked to some of the longest standing investigations against FIFA and various books.
Others have previously faced censure, including Issa Hayatou, the Cameroon power broker, and Nicolas Leoz has also been instigated in the reports. But the allegations against them are relatively minor compared to those against Havelange and Teixeira. Certainly it is crucial that FIFA now act to investigate. FIFA were, to their credit, at least active in getting the papers revealed last week having pushed for that since the scandal which erupted when Sepp Blatter was re-elected last year. But they also had complicity in its hiding for so many years.
Now there are difficult questions for Blatter, who was confident about publishing the reports and rather blaze given he was in charge of FIFA at the time of ISL’s bankruptcy. He may not have been one of those who took bribes, but he certainly has questions to answer, if only about ignorance. That particular issue, ignorance, seems to have been at play in a to and fro between Germany and FIFA since last week’s news became public.
“I’m speaking for the entire board of the DFB when I say that we are appalled,” said German Football Association chief Wolfgang Niersbach. “It is a shocking fact.” His German Football League counterpart Reinhard Rauball added to Die Welt that “for a reform process to take place, FIFA needs someone who is prepared to make a new start.
“These things, which for years have wafted around as speculation, as rumour and suspicion, have now become official. You might well class me as naïve, but until the moment of the official announcement I was not able to believe it.”
Blatter responded by bringing up the vote which won Germany the right to host the 2006 World Cup, when Charlie Dempsey left the room before the final decision was made. That meant that Germany won 12-11 in the voting, and ensured that South Africa missed out. South Africa would have won had it been 12-12, as Blatter had wanted them to win the right to host the competition, and he promptly moved swiftly to ensure they staged the 2010 competition.
So FIFA is once again having to weather the storm. Blatter, ever the astute politician, wants Havelange’s honorary presidency removed, but it is surely key to do more than just that. Why won’t he go further? Havelange and Teixeira’s alleged behaviour cannot be allowed to go without a proper and full investigation and subsequent punishment if guilty. Anything less and FIFA will be discredited once again.