On a Monday night when focus was on the FC Barcelona was giving Real Madrid a worthy larshing, a BBC programme, Panorama, reportedly alleged that three top FIFA executives, including ours Issa Hayatou, took bribes from a sport marke…ting firm in the 1990s.
Mr Hayatou was accused by Panorama alongside two other Fifa officials – Nicolas Leoz, from Paraguay, and Ricardo Teixeira, from Brazil.
All three are on the 22-strong panel currently deciding who will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
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.
African soccer president Issa Hayatou denied on Tuesday that he had taken a bribe and said that his conscience was clear.
In an interview, Hayatou said the BBC programme Panorama had made a false accusation that a payment he received from FIFA’s former marketing partner ISL was a bribe. Panorama also implicated two other FIFA executive committee members in receiving alleged corrupt payments from ISL.
Hayatou said the payment he received was for 25,000 Swiss francs ($25,040) and that it had been a legitimate and approved payment for the African Football Confederation’s (CAF’s) 40th anniversary celebrations in Egypt.
“Panorama wanted to make people believe that we were corrupt,” he said. “What they showed was from 16 years ago. Why did they not show this before?
“The money was addressed for CAF. The executive committee knew of it. I asked them if I should accept and they said yes.”
Hayatou is in Zurich to vote on the FIFA executive committee for the host nation for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“Personally, I know no-one can influence me,” he said. “I will vote with a clear conscience.”
Hayatou said he could not speak for his two colleagues Nicolas Leoz of the South American Confederation and Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil who were also named in the Panorama programme broadcast on Monday.
“But I have no reason to think they are corrupt,” he said. Hayatou said he would discuss with his lawyers whether he should sue the BBC but that was a decision for later.
“These accusations have dishonoured me,” he said. “I would not have stayed at the head of CAF for so long if I was corrupt.”
Hayatou added that he had received countless phone calls from colleagues expressing their support since the Panorama programme was broadcast. “People know me,” he said.
Hayatou has been chairman of CAF since 1988 and was the head of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) from 1986 to 1988.