Joao Havelange stole around US$60 million in dozens of bribes from the ISL company, money that should have gone to FIFA. But investigators have only been able to discover documentary proof for one bribe of 1.5 million Swiss Francs – around US$1 million. But I knew about this bribe 10 years ago and wrote the world exclusive story on May 25, 2002 in the London Daily Mail.
At that time in 2002 a reliable source within FIFA believed the bribe had been for about £500,000. They knew it had come from ISL and by mistake had been sent to a FIFA bank account.
I kept asking questions about this bribe and in 2003 Sepp Blatter banned me from FIFA press conferences and premises. I continued looking for more facts and another reliable source told me they had heard inside FIFA that the amount was around 1 million Swiss Francs. I published this in the Daily Mail on December 5, 2003. I knew the money had gone to Havelange so we used a big picture of him!
Every year I learned more about ISL bribes to senior FIFA officials and told the story in the first chapter of my book Foul! about FIFA corruption. That chapter is called ‘Blatter’s Ticking Time-Bomb.’ I still had the year wrong – it actually happened in March 1997 – but I had more witnesses. The publisher’s lawyers would not let me name Havelange. Nor would they let me use the quote from Blatter, ‘This money must be moved to Havelange’s account.’ But he said it. The book was published six years ago, in May 2006.
In June 2006 I presented a BBC Panorama investigation into Blatter’s corruption. We called it The Beautiful Bung. In that programme we used a question I had put to Blatter at a press conference in Tunis (have a look!) in January 2004 about the bribe. He could not ban me this time. But he was traumatised by my question and avoided answering it.
During the making of the Panorama film I caught up with Blatter in April 2006 at the old FIFA House. I asked him about the ISL bribes but he refused to talk about them (you can see!). As he fled I asked him about the Havelange bribe – but he ran away. But we transmitted the allegation in a film watched by millions in the UK and around the world.
At the end of the film I caught up with Blatter at Zurich airport (have a look!) as he arrived to fly, as he always does, by charter jet. I had seen a document revealing that FIFA had repaid some the bribe money to the liquidator of the IS company.
It is disappointing that reporters for the wire services and so many newspapers have this week believed Blatter when he denies knowing about the ISL bribe to Havelange. So here it is again, extracted from page 8 of Investigating Magistrate Thomas Hildbrand’s report.