Judgement Day for the ISL Scandal Looms but are FIFA’s Investigations Credible? – Keir Radnedge

April 9, 2013

Some time very soon, so football has been promised, FIFA judge Hans-Joachim Eckert is due to pass sentence – or not – on anyone culpable over the ISL scandal.

President Sepp Blatter, last month, suggested April 15 as a deadline but without a great deal of conviction since Eckert has had to negotiate a 4,000-page report from the independent investigator/prosecutor Michael Garcia.

This is not the first time the game has been offered a tantalising prospect of a resolution to all the unanswered questions stemming from the bankruptcy of the former FIFA commercial partner back in May 2001.

Those questions are:

1, which individuals in football (and other sports) received illicit payments from ISL in return for assistance over the award of lucrative broadcasting contracts around the world? And

2, what conclusions may be drawn about the knowledge about the above or lack of it of Sepp Blatter (general secretary and chief executive during the 19 years of the ISL partnership)?

Sylvia Schenk, author of the original Transparency International report which dragged FIFA, kicking and screaming, into launching the current reform process, believes that the world football federation was far too slow to investigate the past.

Schenk has been a consistent thorn in FIFA’s side over the past two years. Not because the 60-year-old lawyer, politician, former athlete and cycling official has anything against football or Blatter.

Schenk does, however, have a deep-seated concern for the credibility of sport and is far from happt with the reform model adopted on the advice of the Basel governance professor Mark Pieth (who has now been largely sidelined).

ISL was created during the 1982 World Cup by Adidas scion Horst Dassler to command all FIFA’s commercial and broadcasting rights business. After his early death in 1987 ISL went off the rails and wasted millions on other sports in a bid to reduce its dependency on football.

Its collapse in 2001 led, drip by drip, to revelations of millions of pounds/dollars/Swiss francs siphoned off by greedy sports officials who were then unencumbered by either sports administration rules or Swiss laws on accountability.

Names to have emerged include those of long-term FIFA president Joao Havelange, his son and Brazilian federation supremeo Ricardo Teixeira, CONMEBOL and CAF leaders Nicolas Leoz and Issa Hayatou as well as international athletics chief Lamine Diack.

Hayatou and Diack have been rapped over the knuckles by the International Olympic Committee while Havelange quit the IOC to avoid the embarrassment of similar sanction or worse. However he remains honorary president of FIFA and his name adorns the stadium due to host athletics at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

He is likely to survive as honorary president of FIFA since the deadline has passed for proposals – such as his removal from office – to be registed in time for FIFA Congress next month.

Schenk believes that FIFA’s failure yet to get to grips with ISL (and other scandals) – almost two years after Blatter launched the reform process risks undermining the validity of the entire process.

She says: “You had a bad situation in FIFA with several senior members convicted of corruption and ongoing corruption allegations – for example, the ISL case with regard to more members of the executive committee including president Blatter.

“If you had that in a company the shareholders would take away the whole leadership and insist on a new start with new – obviously clean – people. Then, maybe, you can say we are starting on reform and not looking back because no current leader is involved.

“But with football and FIFA: If you keep the same people in the system then, first, you have to investigate the past to be assured of their own status. Otherwise the reform process can never have any credibility.”



Keir Radnedge has been covering football worldwide for more than 40 years, writing 33 books, from tournament guides to comprehensive encyclopedias, aimed at all ages.

His journalism career included The Daily Mail for 20 years as well as The Guardian and other national newspapers and magazines in the UK and around the world. He is a former editor, and remains a lead columnist, with World Soccer, generally recognised as the premier English language magazine on global football.

In addition to his writing, Keir has been a regular analyst for BBC radio and television, Sky Sports, Sky News, Aljazeera and CNN.

Keir Radnedge’s Twitter: @KeirRadnedge

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