Joao Havelange resigns as honorary FIFA president over bribe claims

Joao Havelange in 2005
© PA Photos
Joao Havelange resigns as honorary FIFA president over reports that he took bribe money, while current FIFA president Sepp Blatter is cleared.

Joao Havelange has left his post as honorary FIFA president after it was reported that he had taken bribe money.

An Ethics committee headed by Hans-Joachim Eckert released a report this morning claiming that Havelange's conduct was "morally and ethically reproachable" during a case involving the ISL, which is a Switzerland-based marketing agency who sold television rights for the World Cup before claiming bankruptcy in 2001.

While Havelange was alleged to have taken improper payments, it had been suggested that current FIFA president Sepp Blatter knew about a payment of 1.5 million Swiss Francs to ISL meant for Havelange in 1997.

Despite accusations of Blatter's involvement, FIFA ethics chief executive Michael J. Garcia described the Swiss chief's conduct as "clumsy" but not "criminal".

A statement from Blatter said: "I have taken note of the report from the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, regarding the examination of the ISL case.

"I note in particular that, in his conclusions, chairman Eckert states that 'the ISL case is concluded for the Ethics Committee' and that 'no further proceedings related to the ISL matter are warranted against any other football official'.

"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."

Former executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz have also been claimed as receiving bribes.

Havelange, who was the seventh president of FIFA, left his position in 1998.

Sepp Blatter
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