KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY
— Ricardo Teixeira remained in power in Brazilian football through the expedient of ensuring he maintained at least as many powerful friends as enemies.
One of those friends,Jose Marin, has stepped up now as acting president of both the Braazilian confederation and the 2014 local organizing authority.
Marin said: “Ricardo Teixeira was the main person responsible for bringing the World Cup to Brazil. If he doesn’t get our gratitude then he at least deserves our respect.”
But 1994 World Cup-winner Romario, now a congressman, took the opposite view, saying: “Today we can celebrate. We have exterminated a cancer from Brazilian football.”
Teixeira’s departure will be welcomed also by Brazilian state President Dilma Rousseff. Unlike presidential predecessor Lula [Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva], who worked closely with Teixeira, she has kept him at arm’s length since she took office in January 2011.
The rift between them was evidenced publicly when Teixeira did not invite Brazilian legend Pele to join the World Cup organising effort. Rousseff countered by appointing Pele, herself, as a government ambassador for the tournament.
Last October FIFA, through secretary-general Jerome Valcke, asked Rousseff to remove Teixeira from his posts but she demurred, preferring instead to let events take their course.
Originally the young Teixeira was helped up the sports power ladder by the happy convenience of being married to Lucia, daughter of long-time CBF and then FIFA president Joao Havelange. In 1989 Teixeira rose himself to become president of the Brazilian football confederation and, later, a member of the FIFA executive committee.
Under his leadership Brazil won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002 and won host rights to the 2014 World Cup under the now-discontinued system of continental rotation. In fact, Brazil was the only South American country to firm up its interest.
Teixeira duly became president of the local organising authority. The dual roles secured him prospective control of whatever profits Brazilian football would make from the 2014 finals.
Along the way Teixeira had overseen the refinancing of the CBF, largely through a massive sponsorship with Nike. The contract was overseen for several years by a senior Nike marketing executive named Sandro Rosell. Now Rosell is better known as president of all-conquering Spanish club Barcelona. He and Teixeira were not only professional colleagues but close friends – Rosell was a witness at Teixeira’s second marriage to is Ana Carolina Wigand – and business associates.
Teixeira and Rosell have been linked through a company, Ailanto, at the centre of the latest allegations directed at Teixeira. These concerned the financial arrangements surrounding a friendly match between Brazil and Portugal in Brasilia in November 2008.
But this was merely the latest in a stream of financial controversies which have cascaded around Teixeira over the years.
In 2001, a Congressional investigation accused him of 13 crimes ranging from tax evasion to money laundering to misleading lawmakers. The investigation was later frozen and no charges were ever brought.
Last year Lord David Triesman, former chairman of England’s Football Association, told a UK parliamentary inquiry that Teixeira had offered to vote for England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup in return for favours.
Only last month the Brazil v Portugal scandal was blown open by the Folha newspaper of Sao Paulo. It claimed that a marketing company linked to Teixeira had overcharged the regional government for organization costs involved in staging the game.
Teixeira has denied wrongdoing in all cases including the most notorious, which concerns allegations connected with ISL, the long-time former marketing partner of FIFA and which was declared bankrupt in 2001.
A court agreement with FIFA over the ISL bankruptcy settlement sealed all documents including, notoriously, a supposed list of senior sports officials who had received illicit payments for ‘assisting’ in the assignment of World Cup TV rights.
‘Names’ were widely reported to have included Havelange and Teixeira as well as South American confederation president Nicolas Leoz, African confederation president Issa Hayatou and IAAF athletics leader Lamine Diack.
Last December the ISL connection prompted tickings-off for Hayatou and Diack from the International Olympic Committee of which both are members. Havelange resigned from the IOC days before its ethics committee was due to sit in judgment on his own link to ISL.
Last autumn FIFA president Blatter announced an intention to open up the ISL documents. This prompted an investigation by a Brazil public prosecutor and fraud squad into allegations against Teixeira of money-laundering.
Teixeira always denied allegations that illicit payments from ISL had been channeled to him in Brazil through a company in the European tax haven of Liechtenstein and the inquiry was halted without any charges being brought.
This prompted renewed speculation in Brazil that Teixeira was sitting out the storm in the hope of launching a bid in 2015 for the FIFA presidency, though this possibility was always widely discounted in Europe.
That prospect, faint as it was, has vanished along with Teixeira himself.
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