World

Havelange resigns over bribe report

Joao Havelange was FIFA president between 1974-98.
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Joao Havelange, the Brazilian who ruled FIFA for more than two decades, has resigned as honorary president of the world governing body after being named as having received bribes.

The long-awaited reported by FIFA's ethics committee into the scandal involving collapsed marketing partners ISL has named Havelange and two former executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz as receiving bribes. All three have since resigned from FIFA.

The report by FIFA Adjudicatory Chamber chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert also calls current FIFA president Sepp Blatter's handling of the scandal "clumsy" but says it did not breach ethics rules.

The report states: "Mr Havelange has long held solely an honorary position, which does not qualify him as an 'official' under the code of ethics. Further, Mr Havelange resigned his position as honorary president effective 18.04.2013."

Blatter immediately issued a statement welcoming that he had been cleared of misconduct.

He said: "I also note with satisfaction that this report confirms that 'President Blatter's conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules'.

"I have no doubt that FIFA, thanks to the governance reform process that I proposed, now has the mechanisms and means to ensure that such an issue - which has caused untold damage to the reputation of our institution - does not happen again."

Eckert does question Blatter's role in the scandal however.

He states: "It must be questioned, however, whether President Blatter knew or should have known over the years before the bankruptcy of ISL that ISL had made payments (bribes) to other FIFA officials.

"The report states that in 1997, Blatter authorised the transfer of 1.5million Swiss francs (£1million) to Havelange after ISL mistakenly sent it to FIFA. But Blatter, who was then general secretary of the organisation when Havelange was president, told the ethics investigation "at that time he did not suspect the payment was a commission".

"President Blatter's conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules," says the report.

"The conduct of President Blatter may have been clumsy because there could be an internal need for clarification, but this does not lead to any criminal or ethical misconduct."

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