Did Havelange quit IOC to avoid ISL investigation?
LONDON, December 6,2011 - Joao Havelange's decision to resign from the International Olympic Committee has been read only one way despite suggestions from Brazil that the 95-year-old feels it is time to end his near-50-year stint on health grounds.
The glaring coincidence is that the IOC's oldest member has indicated his intention – confirmed by FIFA of which he remains honorary president – just ahead of a double review of the nagging, long-running ISL scandal.
An IOC inquiry into allegations about illicit payments is imminent while the executive committee of the world football federation will shortly review a proposal to publish – in some form – the relevant court documents.
Hence Havelange, to all intends and purposes, appears to be following the example of one-time FIFA vice-president Jack Warner who walked out on all football just before an Ethics Committee hearing into allegations of impropriety.
ISL was the all-powerful marketing partner for both FIFA and the IOC in the 1980s and 1990s. After the company was declared bankrupt in 2001 it emerged that a number of senior powerbrokers within both sports governing bodies had been listed as having received illicit payments.
Havelange was one and others included fellow FIFA exco members Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Issa Hayatou. Linked allegations against Brazilian football chief Teixeira of money-laundering are currently the subject of an investigation by the national fraud squad; Hayatou, president of the African football confederation, is also an IOC member and subject to the current investigation.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter promised in October that a 41-page court document concerning ISL would be reviewed by the executive committee and an independent panel ahead of publication in one form or another.
Havelange, who was FIFA president between 1974 and 1998 and played a decisive role in Rio de Janeiro's securing of the 2016 Olympic Games, will inevitable be seen as having jumped before be might be pushed, in disgrace. A former Olympic swimmer (in Berlin in 1936) and water polo player (in London in 1948) he had been an IOC member since 1962.
A FIFA statement said: "FIFA has taken note of Joao Havelange's resignation as IOC Member and the fact that the IOC has closed the case accordingly." FIFA said no consideration had been taken about his role as the organisations's honorary president.