But the powerful man of world football once again presented himself as an angel of innocence. "I am pleased with the decision of the swiss federal court. It confirms what i have always said: i was not on the list," blatter happily tweeted.
The documents of the public prosecutor’s office in zug on the corruption scandal surrounding the now insolvent media and marketing company ISMM/ISL put the FIFA president in a spot of bother, even if he is not mentioned by name. "The finding that FIFA had knowledge of bribes paid to persons in its bodies cannot be called into question," reads the now published 2010 suspension order.
Blatter had been given the powers of an executive director in 1990 after nine years as FIFA secretary general, and in 1998 he succeeded havelange at the helm of the world soccer association. Between 1989 and 2001, a total of almost 160 million swiss francs was paid in commission payments.
Blatter tried to play down the affair on thursday. "Back then, you could even deduct such payments from your taxes as a corporate expense. Today this would be punishable. You can not measure the past with the letters of today. Otherwise you end up with moral justice. So I can’t have known about a crime that wasn’t a crime," he said in an interview published on the FIFA website.
"Kaiser" franz beckenbauer and FIFA executive member theo zwanziger refused to comment on thursday. But sylvia schenk was clear: "the case shows how FIFA officials have tried for years to keep these payments secret or to legalize them through supplementary approvals. The incidents were played down instead of being clarified and the guilty persons held accountable," said the member of the board of transparency international germany to the dpa news agency.
The lawyer called on FIFA for consequences. "I am surprised that mr. Havelange is still honorary president, although it has been known for many years that he has received payments," said schenk. FIFA must draw consequences and "also ask who knew and covered up for what and when". Blatter declared: "it is not within my competence to hold him accountable". He was appointed honorary president by the FIFA congress. Only the congress can decide its future."
Only the names of havelange and teixeira are known to be the recipients of the bribes. Havelange, who is now 96 years old and was FIFA boss from 1974 to 1998, received 1.5 million swiss francs (about 1.25 million euros) in march 1997. Between august 1992 and november 1997, the former head of the brazilian association, teixeira, received at least 12.74 million swiss francs (about 10.6 million euros). Both have always denied any allegations.
Teixeira resigned from the FIFA executive committee only in march of this year. No one can be prosecuted in the affair any more anyway. The investigation by the public prosecutor’s office into the payment of 5.5 million swiss francs by FIFA and its officials was dropped two years ago. Until the very end, attempts were made to prevent the documents from being made public.
"It shocks me that still in this millennium the FIFA lawyer tried to justify afterwards that payments were made to havelange and teixeira instead of to FIFA – according to the motto, if it’s not punishable, it’s okay. The culture and the spirit behind it, which are made clear several times in the recruitment process, are frightening," said schenk.
For her, it is clear that "if FIFA wants its new compliance program to be more than just a paper exercise, but to actually bring about change, it must urgently start working on the underlying culture."
The opportunity will arise next tuesday when the FIFA executive committee adopts the code of ethics at its extraordinary meeting in zurich and appoints the chairmen of the two chambers of the ethics committee. Blatter himself will claim this as a success on the road to renewal and let himself be celebrated as a reformer. This is a role he much prefers to play than that of the repentant sunder.