POSTED: November 29th 2010

IOC member Hayatou named in BBC TV inquiry over ISL kickbacks

Under pressure: FIFA president Sepp Blatter
Under pressure: FIFA president Sepp Blatter

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON, Nov 29: IOC member Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, president of the African football confederation, is among three FIFA executive committee members named in connection with a kickbacks inquiry launched by BBC Television's Panorama investigation.

Panorama had undertaken an inquiry into FIFA finances and broadcast its finding just three days ahead of the climax of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host bidding process. The FIFA exco votes on both awards on Thursday and Hayatou is among the voters, along with Brazilian football president Ricardo Teixeira and South American confederation president Nicolas Leoz.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is believed to hope that, after Thursday afternoon, any fuss over the allegations will be drowned out amid the drama of the already scandal-enshrouded World Cup decisions.

In the long-term, the various scandals and controversies which have erupted in the run-up to this week may - just may - prompt an internal review of FIFA's structures and self-policing system. But the Swiss legal authorities have made it clear that the issues resurrected by Pamorama - concerning events of 10 or more years ago and involving a long-defunt marketing company - will not spark any further court action.

International Sports and Leisure (ISL) was created in 1982 by the late Adidas boss Horst Dassler and with the compliance of then FIFA president Joao Havelange to manage all FIFA's World Cup TV and marketing rights operations. Its contract was regularly renewed despite competitive tendering from other multinational marketing giants.

ISL also created and ran the TOP programme which proved highly lucrative for the International Olympic Committee.

Panorama's programme was based on a confidential ISL document which listed 175 secret payments between 1989 and 1999. The payments totalled $100m and Panorama claimed these were inducements channelled to a handful of senior FIFA insiders through front companies in Liechtenstein.

The list showed that one such company, Sicuretta, received almost $50m. Hayatou's name appeared next to a cash payment of 100,000 French Francs in 1995. Hayatou is, apart from the CAF presidency, also a member of the Cameroon National Olympic Committee.

Companies link

Another Liechtenstein company, Sanud, received 21 payments totaling $9.5m; this company was linked to Teixeira - the son-in-law of former FIFA president Joao Havelange - by a Brazilian Senate inquiry in 2001. This found that funds from Sanud had been secretly directed to Teixeira through one of his other companies.

Leoz had already been named in connection with two ISL payments totalling $130,000 during court proceedings in 2008. However the list showed he had received three further payments of $200,000 each. Leoz was thus apparently paid $730,000 by ISL.

ISL went bankrupt in 2001 and details of the payments emerged during the subsequent court-led investigations. Six senior ISL bosses were tried in 2008 for misuse of company funds. But they were never tried for commercial bribery because that was not an offence in Switzerland at the time.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in one of his few comments on the issue, has noted only that "no FIFA officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings.”

A further investigation by another Swiss magistrate was discontinued after anonymous FIFA executives accused of taking kickbacks on marketing contracts paid back £3.5m.

None of the men named by Panorama had responded to letters setting out the programme’s allegations. The programme also aired information about a controversial 2010 World Cup tickets deal involving Jack Warner, Trinidad president of the Central and North American Football Confederation.

Warner is also a voting member of the FIFA executive committee. 

Keywords · IOC · Hayatou · BBC · Panorama · ISL

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