Hayatou denies taking bribe allegations

ZURICH, Nov 30 (Reuters) - African football president Issa Hayatou denied on Tuesday that he had taken a bribe, as alleged by a British television documentary on supposed corruption within FIFA, and said that his conscience was clear.

In a television interview with Reuters, Hayatou said the BBC programme Panorama had made a false accusation that a payment he received from FIFA's former marketing partner ISL was a bribe. Panorama also implicated two other FIFA executive committee members in receiving alleged corrupt payments from ISL.

Hayatou said the payment he received was for 25,000 Swiss francs ($25,040) and that it had been a legitimate and approved payment for the African Football Confederation's (CAF's) 40th anniversary celebrations in Egypt.

"Panorama wanted to make people believe that we were corrupt," he said. "What they showed was from 16 years ago. Why did they not show this before?

"The money was addressed for CAF. The executive committee knew of it. I asked them if I should accept and they said yes."

Hayatou is in Zurich to vote on the FIFA executive committee for the host nation for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

"Personally, I know no-one can influence me," he said. "I will vote with a clear conscience."

Hayatou said he could not speak for his two colleagues Nicolas Leoz of the South American Confederation and Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil who were also named in the Panorama programme broadcast on Monday.

"But I have no reason to think they are corrupt," he said.

Hayatou said he would discuss with his lawyers whether he should sue the BBC but that was a decision for later.

"These accusations have dishonoured me," he said. "I would not have stayed at the head of CAF for so long if I was corrupt."

Hayatou added that he had received countless phone calls from colleagues expressing their support since the Panorama programme was broadcast. "People know me," he said.


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