The FBI is reportedly investigating the role played by suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter in a $100m (£66.2m) bribes scandal, a BBC investigation has discovered.
Sports marketing company ISL paid a total of $100m to officials including former Fifa president Joao Havelange and ex-Fifa executive Ricardo Teixeira. In return, ISL was granted lucrative television and marketing rights throughout the 1990s.
According to BBC Sports, Blatter denied knowing about the bribes and took no action. He even allowed Teixeira to take part in the notorious vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Panorama reporter Andrew Jennings has seen a letter obtained by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation which casts doubt on Blatter’s denial.
The letter, apparently written by Havelange, talks about the payments he received from ISL. It says Blatter had “full knowledge of all activities” and was “always apprised” of them.
The letter is included in an FBI request to the Swiss authorities for help with their investigation. They ask for the file of an earlier Swiss investigation into the ISL bribes and they say “among other things, the prosecutor is investigating Havelange’s statements implicating Blatter”.
In 2010, Blatter suppressed a Swiss legal finding that both Havelange and Teixeria had received bribes from ISL. In 2013, Blatter told a Fifa ethics committee inquiry he was unaware of the bribery. He was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Blatter, who says he will stand down as head of football’s world governing body in February 2016, declined to respond to any allegations put to him.
The 79-year-old is currently serving a provisional 90-day suspension from Fifa and faces a hearing with the body’s ethics judge in mid-December.
Damian Collins MP tells Panorama Blatter’s behaviour was extraordinary. He says: “You have to ask yourself why did he seek to protect these people, and not just protect them but allow them to continue to play an active role in some of Fifa’s most important decisions?”
The programme also reveals new evidence about how much money the Qataris spent winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup.