BRASILIA: Romario stepped up his campaign against Brazilian football supremo Jose Maria Marin by handing in a 50,000-signature petition to the CBF demanding the president’s immediate departure writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The 1994 World Cup-winning striker has targeted Marin ever more aggressively since being afforded the platform of chairman of the parliamentary sport and tourism commission.

Romario has long been a critic of the football establishment, both of the Brazilian confederation and also of world federation FIFA, and especially of some of its leaders.

He was a voluble critic of long-time CBF president Ricardo Teixeira who fled into self-imposed exile in Miami this time last year to escape the weight of corruption allegations. Since then, Romario has turned his attention on Teixeira’s designated successor, veteran administrator Marin, and, to a lesser extent, Sao Paulo football chief Marco Polo Del Nero who took over Teixeira’s seat on the FIFA executive committee.

Romario’s petition focuses on links between Marin and Brazil’s former military dictatorship and the need to avoid an “embarrassing” situation during the imminent Confederations Cup and next year’s  World Cup.

Romario delivered the petition together with Ivo Herzog, son of a local journalist who died in mysterious circumstances during the dictatorship in 1975. They want an investigation into Marin’s possible connection to the death.

Herzog said: “We made a comparison in our petition saying that to think about having Marin as head of the World Cup is like imagining Germany selecting someone who belonged to the Nazi party. Can you imagine that? I cannot imagine that. But it happened here in Brazil. That’s the reality.”

Presidential denials

Marin, 80, who is also the president of the local World Cup organizing committee, has denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement on the CBF website he said: “Anyone of good faith will easily recognise that accusations by these pseudo-journalists are absolutely false. This is a campaign based on lies.”

The delivery of the public petition, called “Out Marin,” came on the date commemorating the 49th anniversary of the military coup in 1964. The petition will also be sent to state football federations and to the presidents of top Brazilian clubs. The signatures were gathered online.

“As the federation president, Marin will be side-by-side with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff welcoming heads of states for the Confederations Cup in June and for the World Cup next year,” Romario recently told congress. “They will likely share the same VIP tribune, and I think this proximity will be a bit embarrassing for our president.”

Last month, Romario called for congress’ truth commission to hand over any information it has on Marin after the publication of a controversial speech he gave as a state congressman just before journalist Vladimir Herzog died. Marin allegedly called for an investigation into the participation of leftists in the television channel headed by Herzog, who was later interrogated by police and eventually found dead in his cell.

The military said Herzog committed suicide, but activists argue that Marin’s speech in part led to authorities torturing and killing the journalist, whose case became widely known as a symbol of the abuses against those opposing the dictatorship rule in Brazil from 1964-85.

Last month Romario demanded a parliamentary investigation into the administration of the CBF after recordings emerged alleged to be of Marin – a governor of Sao Paulo in the 1980s – threatening local businessmen and criticising Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo.

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