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Keir RadnedgeAt long last, FIFA’s executive committee will be confronted in March by as much of the truth as is ever likely emerge about the depth and breadth of the ISL scandal. 

For nearly two years from 1982 the marketing company created specifically for the task, monopolised control of the commercial interests of the world football federation and then the Olympic movement.

International Sport & Leisure was the vehicle built by Adidas heir Horst Dassler but it spiralled out of the control after his death in 1987, sought to spread its wings and financial influence far too wide for its own good and eventually went bankrupt in 2001.

Later it emerged that millions of dollars had been paid out by ISL officials in bribes and kickbacks to senior figures within FIFA and the IOC – and FIFA fought for years in the Swiss federal court to prevent their identities being revealed.

Indeed, FIFA even bought off prosecutors through a financial settlement which was supposed to seal the ISL file for all time and eternity.

However, the pressure for reform which overwhelmed FIFA in the winter of 2010-11 forced a surrender over ISL and eventual confirmation that illicit payments had been made to former president Joao Havelange and exco members Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and Issa Hayatou.

To this day Havelange and Teixeira have never formally admitted having received monies though Havelange quit the IOC in ignominy and Teixeira fled Brazil, where he was football federation president, to self-imposed exile in Miami.

Reviewing the ISL court file – and the ‘secret’ schedule of payments – had been one of the priority tasks undertaken by FIFA’s new American ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia on his appointment last summer.

In a statement issued at his behest via the FIFA media department, Garcia said he had completed his review of the ISL case and “will detail his findings in a final report to FIFA’s executive committee . . . at the next regularly scheduled meeting” in March.

Whether that will satisfy critics of FIFA’s ISL tangle remains open to question. One insoluble difficulty is that, at the time, no effective ethics controls were in place and retrospective disciplinary action would probably be rendered impossible.

Garcia has been busy in other spheres in his attempt to clean up the world federation which had become a virtual byword for scandal and corruption through the activities of senior members such as life-banned Mohammed Bin Hammam (Asia & Qatar) and hastily-departed Jack Warner (CONCACAF & Trinidad).

An ‘education tool’ has been built to leave all FIFA officials in no doubt about what is expected of them and a whistleblower hotline – for all corruption issues or concerns – is being launched.

Finally, Garcia has also confirmed that he will review allegations and suspicions surrounding the bidding processs for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

He said: “We intend to conduct a thorough review of those allegations, including the evidentiary basis for and credibility of any allegations of individual misconduct.”

By Keir Radnedge

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