Skip to main content

Blatter: I knew about 'illegal' payments

July 12, 2012 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
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"

(CNN) -- 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.

Kickbacks and cover-ups at FIFA?
A turbulent period for FIFA began in May 2010. Whilst most of the world's soccer fans were more concerned with Africa's first World Cup finals that June, FIFA was presented with official bid documents by Australia, England, Netherlands/Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the United States for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. During the ceremony at its Swiss headquarters, FIFA announced dates for inspections of the bidding nations from July-September. A turbulent period for FIFA began in May 2010. Whilst most of the world's soccer fans were more concerned with Africa's first World Cup finals that June, FIFA was presented with official bid documents by Australia, England, Netherlands/Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the United States for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. During the ceremony at its Swiss headquarters, FIFA announced dates for inspections of the bidding nations from July-September.
May 14, 2010
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
FIFA corruption timeline FIFA corruption timeline
Goal-line technology approved by FIFA
FIFA President denies racism in football

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.

"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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT