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Report: Swiss court rejects appeal blocking publication of FIFA kickbacks document

12/27/2011 09:36 EST | Updated 02/26/2012 05:12 EST
ZURICH - FIFA officials have decided to accept a Swiss court decision clearing the way for the release of a document naming football officials who took millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup broadcast deals.

World football's ruling body said in a statement Tuesday it has "taken note" of the court decision and will not appeal "as it corresponds to the position" taken by the Zurich-based organization and its president, Sepp Blatter.

Officials added, however, that they would not have any comment on the document's contents until its release has been cleared by the court.

The decision by a canton (state) Zug court was reported Tuesday by Zurich business weekly Handelszeitung. It rejects multiple appeals blocking the publication of the documents. The latest decision is now open to further appeal for 30 days.

The document in question details a settlement announced in June 2010 whereby senior football officials admitted taking kickbacks and repaid $6.1 million. The officials repaid the money on condition that their identities remained anonymous.

The 10-year-old scandal stems from alleged payments made by the ISL marketing agency before its 2001 collapse with debts of $300 million. It reportedly implicates former FIFA President Joao Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, the 2014 World Cup organizing committee president.

Blatter had promised in October to publish the document after his executive committee met Dec. 16-17 in Tokyo.

But FIFA postponed its publication, saying "legal measures" taken by a party involved in the ISL scandal prevented it from releasing the court papers on Dec. 17. FIFA did not identify which third party had stalled the process.

Dealing with the ISL case became a signature test of Blatter's promised willingness to reform FIFA and world football after a slew of scandals involving bribery, vote-rigging and ticket scams.

"It was my strong will to make the ISL file fully transparent at this meeting," Blatter said in a statement on Dec. 7. "I have now been advised that as a result of the objection of a third party to such transparency it will take more time to overcome the respective legal hurdles.

"This does not change my stance at all. I remain fully committed to publishing the files as soon as possible."

Blatter's promise of publication was initially met with skepticism by veteran FIFA watchers. However, Blatter and FIFA officials insisted in recent weeks that the 41-page German-language document from the Zug court would be translated into English, French and Spanish and then published.

Blatter has said he was cleared of any wrongdoing in all aspects of the ISL case. Still, the court document could give details of his awareness of kickbacks being paid at a time when commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland.

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