KEIR RADNEDGE reports from Zurich
– ZURICH: The smiles lighting up the FIFA auditorium here today were merely skin-deep; mere masks of celebration, as Brazilian and FIFA bosses ‘revealed’ the venues for the 2014 World Cup, on a further step down the road to crisis.
Two years eight months out from the finals preparations are way behind schedule, FIFA and the Brazilian government are in a stand-off, the enabling ‘World Cup law’ has yet to go to Chamber of Deputies (never mind the Senate after that) and ‘godfather’ Ricardo Teixeira is being chased by an ever-lengthening string of financial inquests.
For what it is worth old hero Romario, himself now a Deputy, says none of the stadia will ready on time.
At the start of this week the Brazilian fraud squad launched an investigation into allegations of money-laundering by Teixeira and his brother over illicit payments a decade ago from the former FIFA marketing partner ISL.
Then on Wednesday night, in a further damaging twist, Deputies decided to launch a three-way investigation into the Brazilian football confederation (CBF), the local 2014 World Cup organising authority (COL) and Teixeira himself.
Teixeira, apart from being a member of FIFA’s much-derided executive committee, is also president of both the CBF and COL.
As if that were not enough, right now he is also embroiled in the Zurich volte-face which sees FIFA president Sepp Blatter struggling to turn a clean sheet after a decade of blind-eye acquiesence to all manner of scandalous behaviour within his own exco.
The 2014 World Cup finals remain with Brazil. But no-one, beyond those who raised a smile here in Zurich for the television cameras, would bet their life on it