FBI Investigates Role of FIFA's Sepp Blatter in Bribery Scandal

FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference after the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the organization's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, July 20. In the latest in a string of bribery allegations against FIFA, Blatter is under investigation by the FBI. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

The FBI is looking into the role FIFA President Sepp Blatter may have played in a $100 million bribery scandal, a BBC investigation has learned.

In yet another twist in the ongoing FIFA saga, the BBC reports that in the 1990s, in return for privileged television and marketing rights, the now defunct sports-marketing company International Sports and Leisure (ISL) paid a total of $100 million to various FIFA officials, among them former President João Havelange and former executive Ricardo Teixeira, Havelange's son-in-law. Blatter, who was FIFA secretary general at the time, has always denied any knowledge of the bribe-taking.

But a letter obtained by the FBI casts doubt on his claim, according to the BBC Panorama television show due to air on Monday. The document, allegedly written by Havelange, discusses the money he received from ISL and claims Blatter had " full knowledge of all activities." In the letter, seemingly written after a 2010 court case linked to the bribes, Havelange also claims the payments were legal, the Guardian reports.

According to the BBC, in 2010 Blatter suppressed a Swiss legal ruling which found that both Havelange and Teixeira took money from ISL. Three years later, Blatter told a FIFA ethics committee he had no knowledge of what was going on and was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing. He is due to appear before the committee again in December.

The FBI sent Havelange's letter to Swiss authorities as part of a larger request for assistance. The bureau has also asked for the file of a previous Swiss investigation into the ISL payouts.

But this is just one of several examinations into FIFA's ethical practices. On December 3, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that 16 FIFA employees and associates have been charged as part of the wider probe into the organization.

Blatter, who has recently suffered from stress, is yet to comment on the most recent allegations. After Switzerland's attorney general opened criminal proceedings against him in October, Blatter was handed a 90-day suspension from FIFA. He is due to step down from the presidency in February 2016.