João Havelange resigned from his post as honorary president of FIFA after an internal report said the former president of soccer’s world governing body was guilty of receiving bribes from the now-defunct sports marketing company International Sport and Leisure (ISL). The ethics committee report from Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA’s adjudicatory chamber chairman, implicates 96-year-old Havelange, former Brazilian soccer federation chief Ricardo Teixeira, and Nicolas Leoz, the former president of CONMEBOL, for receiving “commissions” after ISL was awarded lucrative marketing contracts between 1992 and May 2000.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who at the time was general secretary of the organization, is cleared of any wrongdoing in the report, despite authorizing the transfer of $1.5 million in 1997 to Havelange from ISL after the marketing company mistakenly sent it to FIFA. Eckert describes Blatter’s failure to ask questions about the reasons for this transaction as “clumsy,” but says he did not breach any ethics rules.
Eckert’s report does not mention the total sum of the bribes paid to Havelange, Teixeira, and Leoz. However, court documents from ISL’s bankruptcy state that Havelange received at least $1.5 million and Teixeira $13 million, though the pair may have received as much as $22.5 million. Leoz, meanwhile, was named in court as having received at least $124,000.
ISL went bankrupt in 2001, citing a debt of $237 million. During its bankruptcy case in Switzerland, it emerged that the company paid out more than $102 million in bribes to sports officials at various companies to secure valuable marketing and TV rights contracts. ISL worked closely with FIFA as well as the International Olympic Committee.