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No new FIFA probe into BBC claims

FIFA has ruled out a fresh investigation into allegations of corruption raised by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

In an episode aired on Monday, the BBC accused FIFA officials Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira of taking bribes from sports marketing firm International Sports and Leisure (ISL).

The trio were allegedly paid for their influence in the lucrative appointment of ISL as FIFA’s marketing arm.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter released a statement on Monday saying no evidence of corruption had been found in a previous court hearing, and sport’s ruling body reiterated on Tuesday it would not open a new investigation.

“The matters … were investigated by the relevant authorities in Switzerland,” a FIFA statement read.

“In its verdict of 26 June 2008, the Criminal Court of Zug had not convicted any FIFA officials. It is therefore important to stress again the fact that no FIFA officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings.”

“There has been no court conviction against FIFA. The investigation and the case are definitely closed.”

Leoz, Hayatou and Teixeira, as members of FIFA’s executive committee, will vote on Thursday to decide the host nations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

Hayatou is alleged to have received up to 100,000 Swiss francs from ISL before the firm went bankrupt in 2001.

However, the chairman of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said he only received an approved payment of 25,000 francs towards CAF’s 40th anniversary celebrations in Egypt.

“Panorama wanted to make people believe that we were corrupt,” Hayatou told Reuters.

“What they showed was from 16 years ago. Why did they not show this before?”

“The money was addressed for CAF. The executive committee knew of it. I asked them if I should accept and they said yes.”

“These accusations have dishonoured me. I would not have stayed at the head of CAF for so long if I was corrupt.”

“Personally, I know no-one can influence me. I will vote (on Thursday) with a clear conscience.”

Hayatou is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and could still face an investigation from that ruling body.

“The IOC has taken note of the allegations made by BBC Panorama and will ask the programme makers to pass on any evidence they may have to the appropriate authorities,” an IOC statement read.

“The IOC has a zero tolerance against corruption and will refer the matter to the IOC Ethics Commission.”

A fourth FIFA official, Jack Warner, was accused by Panorama of attempting to organise the sale of US$84,000 worth of 2010 World Cup tickets to the black market.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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