"You can't judge the past on the basis of today's standards." So spoke FIFA President Sepp Blatter in regard to a kickbacks scandal that paid millions of dollars to his former boss Joao Havelange, when Blatter served under him as secretary general. Blatter's comments were published on the FIFA Website Thursday in a question-and-answer format.
Asked if he knew Havelange took kickbacks from marketing agency ISL, which collapsed under huge debts in 2001, Blatter said '"commission" payments were legal in Switzerland in the 1990s.
"I can't have known about an offense that wasn't even one," Blatter said. "Back then, such payments could even be deducted from tax as a business expense. Today, that would be punishable under law."
FIFA published a Swiss prosecutor's report on Wednesday confirming Havelange accepted kickbacks in the 1990s. Blatter replaced Havelange as FIFA president in 1998.