FIFA accepts decision to release kickbacks files

FIFA officials have decided to accept a Swiss court decision

clearing the way for the release of a document naming football

officials who took millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup

broadcast deals.

World football’s ruling body said in a statement Tuesday it has

”taken note” of the court decision and will not appeal ”as it

corresponds to the position” taken by the Zurich-based

organization and its president, Sepp Blatter.

Officials added, however, that they would not have any comment

on the document’s contents until its release has been cleared by

the court.

The decision by a canton (state) Zug court was reported Tuesday

by Zurich business weekly Handelszeitung. It rejects multiple

appeals blocking the publication of the documents. The latest

decision is now open to further appeal for 30 days.

The document in question details a settlement announced in June

2010 whereby senior football officials admitted taking kickbacks

and repaid $6.1 million. The officials repaid the money on

condition that their identities remained anonymous.

The 10-year-old scandal stems from alleged payments made by the

ISL marketing agency before its 2001 collapse with debts of $300

million. It reportedly implicates former FIFA President Joao

Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, the 2014 World Cup organizing

committee president.

Blatter had promised in October to publish the document after

his executive committee met Dec. 16-17 in Tokyo.

But FIFA postponed its publication, saying ”legal measures”

taken by a party involved in the ISL scandal prevented it from

releasing the court papers on Dec. 17. FIFA did not identify which

third party had stalled the process.

Dealing with the ISL case became a signature test of Blatter’s

promised willingness to reform FIFA and world football after a slew

of scandals involving bribery, vote-rigging and ticket scams.

”It was my strong will to make the ISL file fully transparent

at this meeting,” Blatter said in a statement on Dec. 7. ”I have

now been advised that as a result of the objection of a third party

to such transparency it will take more time to overcome the

respective legal hurdles.

”This does not change my stance at all. I remain fully

committed to publishing the files as soon as possible.”

Blatter’s promise of publication was initially met with

skepticism by veteran FIFA watchers. However, Blatter and FIFA

officials insisted in recent weeks that the 41-page German-language

document from the Zug court would be translated into English,

French and Spanish and then published.

Blatter has said he was cleared of any wrongdoing in all aspects

of the ISL case. Still, the court document could give details of

his awareness of kickbacks being paid at a time when commercial

bribery was not a crime in Switzerland.