FIFA confirms Havelange is out

2011-12-05 18:00

Geneva - FIFA confirmed that former president Joao Havelange has resigned as a member of the IOC, and said on Monday the Olympic body's ethics case against the 95-year-old Brazilian has been closed.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that Havelange, who was the International Olympic Committee's longest-standing member, had resigned days before he faced possible suspension.

The IOC was preparing to rule on claims he took kickback payments while he was president of FIFA from 1974-98.

"FIFA has taken note of Joao Havelange's resignation as IOC Member and the fact that the IOC has closed the case accordingly," FIFA said in a statement to the AP.

Havelange's decision to leave the IOC prompted speculation he could resign or lose his status as FIFA's honorary president. However, FIFA said authority over his ceremonial position belonged to football's 208 nations and Havelange himself.

"It is important to note that Joao Havelange was appointed honorary president by the FIFA Congress on June 8, 1998," the governing body said. "FIFA cannot speculate on any decisions made by Mr Havelange."

Havelange, an IOC member since 1963, has been under investigation by the ethics commission for allegedly receiving a $1 million payment from former FIFA marketing partner ISL.

A two-year suspension, or even possible expulsion, for Havelange was expected to be considered at Thursday's IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Havelange, a former Olympic swimmer and water polo player, served as FIFA president for 24 years before being succeeded by Sepp Blatter in 1998.

The ethics case stems from a BBC documentary last year into kickbacks allegedly paid by ISL, which owned World Cup television rights and collapsed with debts of $300 million in 2001.

Citing Swiss court documents, the BBC's Panorama program alleged that Havelange took a $1 million payment from ISL in 1997.

The ISL case was the subject of a Swiss criminal trial in 2008. FIFA has blocked the court in Zug from revealing which officials repaid $6.1 million in kickbacks.

The officials repaid the money on condition that their identities remained anonymous as part of a court settlement announced in June 2010.

Ricardo Teixeira, Havelange's former son-in-law and head of Brazil's 2014 World Cup organising committee, was also identified by the BBC as having received payments. Teixeira is not an IOC member.

Brazilian federal authorities are seeking the Swiss documents to investigate possible money laundering.

FIFA has pledged to publish a 41-page court document detailing the settlement as part of Blatter's anti-corruption drive on December 17, following an executive committee meeting in Tokyo.