Sepp Blatter has claimed he does not have the power to strip João Havelange of Fifa’s honorary presidency and defended the world governing body's lack of action over the ISL bribery scandal. Havelange, the 96-year-old former Fifa president, and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira were named in court documents on Wednesday as having received millions in bribes from the collapsed marketing company ISL during the 1990s.
Blatter said that such payments were not illegal at the time under Swiss law. Asked to respond to having known about the backhanders, Blatter said: “Known what? That commission was paid? Back then, such payments could even be deducted from tax as a business expense. Today, that would be punishable under law. You can’t judge the past on the basis of today’s standards. Otherwise it would end up with moral justice.”Blatter added that it was not up to him to remove Havelange from his honorary post. "I don’t have the power to call him to account," said Blatter. "The congress named him as honorary president. Only the congress can decide his future."
Neither Havelange nor the former executive committee member Teixeira ever faced disciplinary action from Fifa. Instead, the world governing body also agreed to pay a Swiss court R 14 crore in compensation - but only on the condition that criminal proceedings against Havelange and Teixeira were dropped. The report states Havelange was paid at least R 8.6 crore, Teixeira R 72 crore and the pair may have received as much as Rs. 124 crore.
The two men have dominated Brazilian football between them for the past 50 years. Teixeira only stepped down earlier this year from Fifa's executive committee and as head of Brazil's 2014 World Cup organising committee after it became apparent the report would be published.
Havelange resigned from the IOC in December after 48 years just days before he was due to be sanctioned following their own investigation into the ISL case.