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Havelange resigns from FIFA over bribe allegations

The 96-year-old has been named as one of three former governing body executives to have taken payments from collapsed marketing company ISL during the 1990s

FIFA honorary president Joao Havelange has resigned after being named in a report on Tuesday as one of three senior officials in the organization to have taken bribes.

The Brazilian, 96, who was president of football's governing body from 1974 to 1998, has been identified by a FIFA internal inquiry as having accepted payments from collapsed marketing company International Sports and Leisure (ISL) between 1992 and 2000, along with former executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz.

The report released on Tuesday, compiled by FIFA's ethics committee and led by Hans-Joachim Eckert, also accused current president Sepp Blatter of "clumsy" handling over the ISL affair, but has ruled that he did not breach any ethics rules in the process.

"It is certain that not inconsiderable amounts were channeled to former FIFA president Havelange and to his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira as well as to Dr Nicolas Leoz, whereby there is no indication that any form of service was given in return by them," the report reads.

"These payments were apparently made via front companies in order to cover up the true recipient and are to be qualified as 'commissions', known today as 'bribes'.

"There are also no indications whatsoever that President Blatter was responsible for a cash flow to Havelange, Teixeira or Leoz, or that that he himself received any payments from the ISL Group, even in the form of hidden kickback payments.

"It must be questioned, however, whether President Blatter knew or should have known over the years before the bankruptcy of ISL that ISL had made payments to other Fifa officials."

In a statement on FIFA's official website, Blatter expressed his satisfaction at the findings of the report, though made no comment on the accusations towards Havelange and his subsequent resignation.

"I have no doubt that FIFA, thanks to the governance reform process that I proposed, now has the mechanisms and means to ensure that such an issue - which has caused untold damage to the reputation of our institution - does not happen again," Blatter stated.

ISL was granted exclusive rights to market World Cup tournaments to global brands before the company suffered financial collapse in 2001. FIFA confirmed last summer that an investigation would be launched into bribery allegations concerning the ISL agreement, which has resulted in the findings of the report.

Leoz stood down from his post with FIFA and CONMEBOL last week, citing health issues as the reason behind his retirement after undergoing heart surgery earlier this year.

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