Joao Havelange Should be Stripped of FIFA Title says Blatter

July 15, 2012

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has today suggested former boss Joao Havelange should be stripped of his honorary title following the release of the ISL documents implicating the Brazilian. 

Blatter’s comments mark a reversal for the president of soccer’s governing body. At the FIFA congress meeting in Hungary in May, Blatter had led a standing ovation for the ailing 96-year-old.

But Blatter has been under mounting pressure since last week after FIFA released a Swiss prosecutor’s report confirming Havelange accepted kickbacks from marketing agency ISL in the 1990s.

“He has to go. He can’t remain honorary president after these incidents,” Blatter told Swiss weekly SonntagsBlick in an interview that was published Sunday.

Blatter was a senior official during Havelange’s reign at FIFA. The 76-year-old Blatter, who is Swiss, took over from Havelange in 1998.

He had previously acknowledged that he knew about payments, but insisted they were legal in Switzerland at the time.

“I only learned of it (the payments), after the collapse of the ISL agency in 2001,” Blatter said. “It was FIFA which made a criminal complaint at the time and thereby got the ball rolling in the ISL case.”