FIFA Under Attack?

On a Monday night when focus was on the FC Barcelona versus Real Madrid clash in the Spanish league, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme, Panorama, has alleged that three top FIFA executives, including Cameroon-born Issa Hayatou, took bribes from a sport marketing firm in the 1990s.

The alleged bribes are included in a confidential document listing 175 payments totalling about $100m (£64m) from defunct sports marketing company International Sports and Leisure (ISL) routed via a series of front companies in Liechtenstein, the programme said.

The list obtained by Panorama also includes details of 100,000 French Francs (£12,900) paid to Issa Hayatou, the Fifa vice-president and President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the BBC reported on its website.

The British media organization says Hayatou did not respond to the allegations when contacted by Panorama.

The other FIFA executives named by the programme are Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay who is the chairman of the South American Football governing body and Ricardo Teixeira, who is head of the Brazilian Football Confederation which is responsible for staging the 2014 World Cup.

Both South Americans  also declined to respond to the allegations.

The claims will lead to renewed calls for Fifa to answer outstanding questions over the ISL affair, which triggered one of Switzerland’s biggest criminal fraud cases, and justify the continued presence of the individuals concerned on its executive committee, the British newspaper, the Guardian said on its website.

The programme was broadcast hours before the decisive vote to determine which countries will host  the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. England is a candidate and the three FIFA executives will be voting.

There has been some criticism from members of the England bid team about the timing of the broadcast based on fears that it may have a negative impact on the country’s chances against rival bids from Russia,  Spain/Portugal (joint bid), Netherlands/Belgium (joint bid).

“We stand by our previous position that the BBC’s Panorama did nothing more than rake over a series of historical allegations, none of which are relevant to the current bidding process. It should be seen as an embarrassment to the BBC,” the England 2018 bid team said in a statement.

The BBC says, the programme is in the public interest.

These revelations follow another investigation from the English newspaper, the Sunday Times, that led to the suspension of six Fifa officials.

Issa Hayatou, who has never been named before in connection with the affair and was once seen as a key target for England’s bidding team, was understood to have reacted furiously to the earlier Sunday Times investigation and the three‑year suspension handed down to Nigerian-born Amos Adamu and will be further angered by the latest allegations, the Guardian reported.

Hayatou has been chairman of CAF since 1988 and was the head of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) from 1986 to 1988.

*Based on reports on BBC and Guardian websites