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By ESPN Staff
Apr 23, 2012

Blatter criticised over bribery case

FIFA president Sepp Blatter's handling of the ISL bribery case has been severely criticised by a Council of Europe (COE) report.

• FIFA announces anti-corruption body

On Monday, the COE published testimony given by Swiss prosecuting magistrate Thomas Hildbrand to the council about the ISL court case, in relation to backhanders paid by the now-defunct ISL marketing company to secure FIFA's World Cup television rights.

The testimony says backhanders worth at least 12.7 million Swiss francs (£8.5 million) were paid to one South American FIFA member, named as 'person H', and 1.5 million Swiss francs (£1.1 million) to another senior FIFA official, named as 'person E'.

BBC Panorama has previously said former Brazilian confederation chief Ricardo Teixeira is 'person H' and former FIFA president Joao Havelange is 'person E'.

The COE report by French national assembly member Francois Rochebloine is damning of Blatter's role - even given that the FIFA president was not directly involved.

The report states: "Mr Blatter was technical director of FIFA from 1975 to 1981, FIFA general secretary from 1981 to 1998 and has been its president ever since. Since FIFA was aware of significant sums paid to certain of its officials, it is difficult to imagine that Mr Blatter would not have known about this.

"That does not mean that he was directly involved in this case of backhanders, but I believe it is extraordinary that he did nothing to make public all the information which FIFA had or has, and took no steps whether internally or via the courts to enable FIFA to obtain reparation.

"As Mr Hildbrand clearly explained, FIFA was accused as an undertaking under Swiss law, but it was also a victim: the money paid under-the-counter to certain unscrupulous officials should have been paid to FIFA."

The testimony from Hildbrand, published for the first time, said the "commission payments" were made to ensure the FIFA officials influenced where TV contracts were awarded.

Hildbrand stated in relation to one FIFA executive member, known only as person H, that he received more than 12.5 million Swiss francs.

Hildbrand said: "The payments made over a period of years were intended to make use of his influence within FIFA so that contractual relations came about between FIFA and Sports Holding AG, so as to ensure that he subsequently influenced the conclusion of sub-licensing contracts, as president of the football association of a South American country.

"Accused person H enriched himself by the amount of the commission payments accepted and not passed on as he had a duty to do, while FIFA was damaged by the same amount."

FIFA did not respond when invited to comment.