Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Fifa's ex-media partners on trial

Football action
ISL handled football body FIFA's television and marketing rights

Prosecutors have accused Fifa's former marketing arm ISL/ISMM of channelling 18m Swiss francs ($17.5m; 8.7m) in bribes through Liechtenstein.

A fraud trial in Switzerland is taking place of six former executives from the now-defunct firm, on charges including embezzlement and forging documents.

Prosecutors allege the six paid-off people involved in negotiating the rights deals to major sporting events.

The defendants have entered not-guilty pleas against all the charges.

World Cup rights

Charges the six face include embezzlement, fraud, fraudulent bankruptcy, damaging creditors and falsification of documents.

They could face up to four-and-a-half years in prison if convicted. No current or former FIFA officials are among the accused.

ISMM, the parent company of ISL, owned the television and marketing rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

ISL ran Fifa's marketing and television rights for 20 years. It collapsed in May 2001 with estimated debts of $330m.

Prosecution document

Investigators in Switzerland have been looking at claims ISL bosses paid bribes to sports officials to win valuable TV contracts.

Nicolas Leoz, president of the South American Football Confederation (CSF) since 1986, was named in a prosecution document naming alleged beneficiaries of payments from a Liechtenstein bank account.

The Fifa executive committee member has not been charged with anything and the papers did not say what the payments, made to the Paraguayan in January and May 2000, may have been for.

The CSF said it could not add to a 2006 statement, that: "No member of the institution has received any money from the aforementioned company."

Fifa 'not accused'

As well as Fifa, ISL dealt with many sports bodies including tennis's ATP Tour.

The criminal investigation leading to the trial began when Fifa made a fraud complaint against two individuals following ISL's collapse.

The world football body later withdrew its complaint, saying it wanted to pursue civil proceedings, but prosecutors continued with the investigation.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said his organisation will not be affected by the latest proceedings.

"The court has said very clearly that no officials or staff members of Fifa are among the accused," he said.

"We look forward to this trial and to the ruling."

The trial is set to last for around seven days over March and April, with verdicts pencilled in for the summer.


SEE ALSO
Fifa's agents survive winding-up order
01 May 01 |  World Cup 2002
$1.2bn tennis deal in doubt
22 Jan 01 |  Tennis
Blatter staying put
25 May 01 |  Europe

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