Blatter: I knew about 'illegal' payments

FIFA in crisis over bribery scandal
FIFA in crisis over bribery scandal

    JUST WATCHED

    FIFA in crisis over bribery scandal

MUST WATCH

FIFA in crisis over bribery scandal 03:25

Story highlights

  • FIFA President Blatter admits he knew about payments to former FIFA officials
  • Blatter says he didn't think there was an offense at the time
  • FIFA has set up an Ethics Committee since the revelations emerged
  • The Swiss court is investigating FIFA for "disloyal management"

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted that he did know about alleged bribe payments made to former FIFA executives, but insists he didn't think they were illegal at the time.

"You can't judge the past on the basis of today's standards. Otherwise it would end up with moral justice. I can't have known about an offense that wasn't even one," he told the website of football's world governing body.

A Swiss court has published its findings following an investigation into alleged illegal payments made by FIFA marketing partner International Sports and Leisure (ISL) to former FIFA president Joao Havelange and former executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira.

The report found that Havelange had received at least 1.5 million Swiss francs ($1.53 million) and Ricardo Teixeira was paid at least CHF 12.4 million ($12.64 million) from marketing partner ISL.

Blatter was FIFA's general secretary at the time of the alleged irregularities, and in that role he co-signed agreements with the marketing group.

Blatter has confirmed that he is the "P1" character investigators referred to in several key points of the report. The investigators specifically identified "P1" as someone who knew about the illegal payments.

Kickbacks and cover-ups at FIFA?
Kickbacks and cover-ups at FIFA?

    JUST WATCHED

    Kickbacks and cover-ups at FIFA?

MUST WATCH

Kickbacks and cover-ups at FIFA? 02:32
Goal-line technology approved by FIFA
Goal-line technology approved by FIFA

    JUST WATCHED

    Goal-line technology approved by FIFA

MUST WATCH

Goal-line technology approved by FIFA 02:27
FIFA President denies racism in football
FIFA President denies racism in football

    JUST WATCHED

    FIFA President denies racism in football

MUST WATCH

FIFA President denies racism in football 05:37

"It was confirmed by the former chief financial officer of FIFA ... that a certain payment made to Joao Havelange by the Company 1 amounting to CHF 1 million was mistakenly directly transferred to a FIFA account; not only the CFO had knowledge of this, but also, among others, P1 would also have known about it," the report stated.

However, Blatter defended his involvement on the FIFA website in a move that shows the 76-year-old is making some effort to keep the promises of greater transparency he made after being re-elected in 2011.

"Back then, such payments could even be deducted as a business expense," he said of ISL's transactions, which were made between 1999 and the company's collapse in 2001.

"Today, that would be punishable under law."

However, one of FIFA's critics insists that Blatter should take more responsibility for the ruling body's actions.

"The FIFA president has a serious moral compass problem. You are looking at an organization whose culture is tolerant of impropriety," David Larkin, co-director of campaign group Change FIFA, told CNN.

"The president is trying to defend acts that would not be tolerated anywhere else."

FIFA has been keen to point to its active involvement in the case, declaring on Wednesday in a response to the document's publication: "The decision by the Federal Court is in line with what FIFA and the FIFA president have been advocating since 2011, when world football's governing body announced its commitment to the publication of the ISL non-prosecution order."

Blatter highlighted the formation of an Ethics Committee, an adjudicatory body and an investigatory body, and told the FIFA website that "some important steps have already been taken."

However, Larkin described FIFA as "the least qualified people to investigate" the allegations against it.

        Football Focus

      • French football great bids adieu

        After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
      • Mario's 'Queen' tweet tops 2014 list

        He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
      • bpr south african soccor senzo meyiwa death _00000402.jpg

        Loss of a South African 'icon'

        Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
      • German alleged jihadist Kreshnik B (R) listens to his lawyer Mutlu Guenal (L) as he arrives at the higher regional court in Frankfurt. His face is pixelated for legal reasons.

        From Jewish football to ISIS suspect

        Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
      • Where has 'Super' Mario gone?

        One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
      • Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.

        Should rapist return to work?

        Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
      • Teen, 15, makes Euro history

        Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.