KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING: Ricardo Teixeira has just made a flying visit back to Brazil just as his old friend, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, is facing new controversy over his financial involvement with the CBF.
Teixeira fled into exile in Miami in March last year after pressure of controversy ended his 23-year command of the Brazilian football confederation. Accusations included the notorious ISL scandal from which he and ex-father-in-law Joao Havelange harvested millions of dollars in illicit payments over World Cup TV deals.
His sudden, brief return was prompted by concern over the financial state of the CBF following the winding-up, by Brazil’s central bank, of the Belo Horizonte-based Banco Rural.
Reportedly the CBF had deposited $13.14m over the past decade with Rural which collapsed after the conviction of senior directors on charges including money-laundering linked into a major cash-for-votes scandal.
Local media has reported that CBF risks losing $30m and that Teixeira’s return was to try to rescue some of those funds.
Although Itau is the main bank used by the CBF the Banco Rural had handled much of its foreign exchange transactions – and the CBF’s international business is the sphere which has concerned Rosell according to the latest inquiries by Estado of Sao Paulo.
The newspaper claims that slices of the revenue generated from 24 of Brazil’s friendly internationals ended up in US-registered accounts held by a company connected to the Barcelona president.
Rosell was director in Spain of ISL – that again! – in the early 1990s. He moved then Nike and took charge of the sportswear giant’s Brazilian promotional business. In 1996, he negotiated with Teixeira a $320m, 10-year deal of the Brazilian national team.
In 2006 the CBF assigned the organisation of 24 friendly fixtures to a company named ISE. Some of the payments by foreign federations for promotion and image rights were channelled through ISE’s offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands.
Reportedly the CBF’s contract with ISE involved passing on around a fifth of the fees (around $450,000 per game for an $8m total) for promotional services to a US company, Uptrend Development, which had been linked to Rosell. The company has an address of convenience in Cherry Hill, New York State.
Shortly before he quit the CBF, according to Estado, Teixeira extended the contract with ISE, on slightly less lucrative terms, for a further 10 years. However other reports have suggested the contract was renegotiated in April this year.
Jose Maria Marin, Teixeira’s successor as president of the CBF, said last week in Switzerland – where Brazil lost a friendly 1-0 – that he knew nothing of such an arrangement.
Marin, who had been senior vice-president of the CBF under Teixeira, has said he will not seek re-election later next year after the World Cup.
Rosell undertook to relinquish promotional companies on becoming president of Barcelona in 2010. He had formerly been a vice-president under Joan Laporta whom he ousted subsequently.
With Barcelona Rosell has developed a close relationship with the Gulf state of Qatar. Barcelona’s shirt sponsorship is controlled by the Qatar Foundation investment body; in 2010 Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola ran a coaching clinic during the World Cup in South Africa which was supported by the Qatar Football Association.
Teixeira and fellow South Americans Julio Grondona (Argentina) and Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay) are believed to have been voting supporters of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid when it came before the FIFA executive committee in December 2010.
Romario, former World Cup winner turned Congressman, has been a dogged pursuer of Teixeira and the CBF. He said, in a TV interview, that the latest revelations are “further proof that CBF is one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet.”