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May 1, 2013

FIFA urged to launch bribery inquiry

He ruled FIFA for more than two decades but Joao Havelange's era at football's governing body has ended in controversy.

FIFA is under pressure to launch an independent investigation after former president Joao Havelange was discovered to have received bribes through dealings with a Swiss-based marketing agency.

• Havelange in bribe reports

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has come under increased scrutiny following Havelange's decision to step down from his position as honorary president due to the governing body's ethics committee releasing a report that claimed board members Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira also accepted bribes from 1992-2000.

The findings have placed a cloud over the ethical nature of FIFA, particularly given the close nature of ties between the organisation and marketing company ISL in relation to World Cups and television broadcast rights.

British politician Clive Efford, the shadow sports minister, has expressed concerns that there could be more cases of corruption amongst FIFA executives and has called for an independent inquiry .

"FIFA will always remain under suspicion of corruption at the very top of the organisation unless there is an entirely independent investigation into the payments relating to the ISL contract," Efford said.

"It is extremely disappointing to see these people lining their pockets when volunteers that run grassroots clubs are desperate for funds. The culprits must be identified and hounded out of our game."

Conservative MP Damian Collins, who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee, has urged Blatter to resign from his post.

"Sepp Blatter should himself resign for his failure to expose the wrongdoing sooner, and to take action earlier against those who had done wrong," Collins told the Press Association.

"The impression created by this report is one of an attempted cover-up by FIFA of this massive corruption scandal motivated by the desire to protect some of its leading officials."

FIFA Adjudicatory Chamber chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert, who compiled the ethics report, has backed Collins' assertion, insisting Blatter should have been aware of cases involving bribery.

"It must be questioned, however, whether President Blatter knew or should have known over the years before the bankruptcy of ISL that ISL had made payments (bribes) to other FIFA officials," Eckert said.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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