Group: Investigate Sepp Blatter
Associated Press
March 7, 2012
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ZURICH -- FIFA should investigate Sepp Blatter's re-election as president and publish documents relating to a kickbacks scandal, a European lawmakers' advisory group said Wednesday.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's panel said FIFA should examine whether Blatter exploited his position ahead of the vote last June.

FIFA should probe "whether the candidates in its recent election for president -- and particularly the successful candidate -- exploited their institutional positions to obtain 'unfair advantages for themselves or for potential voters," the panel said.

Blatter was re-elected unopposed when rival candidate Mohamed bin Hammam withdrew after being accused of bribing voters.

Bin Hammam claims that Blatter helped orchestrate the bribery scandal, and is challenging his lifetime ban by FIFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month.

FIFA responded Wednesday that it already investigated allegations that Blatter knew of, and did not report, payments to Caribbean officials.

"All charges (against Blatter) were dismissed in full, as the Ethics Committee found that no breach of the code of ethics had been committed," FIFA said in a statement.

The Council's report on sports governance attempted to increase pressure on FIFA to reveal details of a scandal involving its former marketing agency, which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001.

FIFA should "publish in full any judicial and other documents" it possessed about the ISL case, in which senior soccer officials allegedly took millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup broadcast deals, the report said.

The lawmakers' report said they met on Tuesday in Paris with Swiss prosecutor Thomas Hildbrand, who investigated the ISL case and put agency executives on trial over alleged financial mismanagement.

Blatter promised to publish a court dossier last year as part of a wide-ranging reform program. The document would identify FIFA officials who acknowledged taking kickbacks in the 1990s but repaid some money to FIFA and the court on condition of remaining anonymous.

The BBC has reported that two Brazilian officials -- Blatter's predecessor, Joao Havelange, and Ricardo Teixeira, a FIFA executive committee member who leads the 2014 World Cup local organizing committee -- are named in court papers.

However, at least one party has appealed to Switzerland's supreme court to block publication.

European lawmakers also called on FIFA to give more investigative powers to its ethics committee, which Blatter has already promised.

FIFA should "cast full light on the facts underlying the various scandals which, in recent years, have tarnished its image and that of international football."

The report also proposed guidelines on good governance and ethical leadership across all sports.

It will be debated on April 25 when parliamentarians from 47 Council of Europe member states meet in Strasbourg, France.

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