BRASILIA: A Brazilian court has cleared Ailanto Marketing, the controversial company run by ex-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, of liability in the row over Brazil’s friendly against Portugal in 2008 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The verdict was academic with the judge acknowledging that the company had entered liquidation.

However two state officials, former Governor Jose Roberto Arruda and Sports Minister Aguinaldo Silva de Oliveira, were both found guilty of improper conduct and fined and barred from public office.

The cloud of the case has hung over Rosell for the past two years and was one of the issues which fuelled opposition in Barcelona to his reign as club president. Rosell resigned early this month after the Neymar transfer issue proved the last straw.

Ailanto had been accused in Brazil of having accepted $9m from the Brasilia Federal District (state) to organise the international friendly but had failed to deliver even though the match went ahead.

The match was played on November 19, 2008, as a formal opening of the Valmir Campelo Bezerra stadium and the court case was launched 18 months later.

Rio address

Rosell was named in the original action in his formal name as Alexandre Rosell Feliu along with sole fellow director Vanessa Almeira Precht plus Arruda and Silva de Oliveira (better known as Aguinaldo de Jesus).

Ailanto’s address was listed in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. Media reports had suggested its offices had been within a property owned by Ricardo Teixeira who was then president of the Brazilian football confederation.

In July of last year Ailanto’s ownership was formally registered in the Diario Oficial of Rio de Janeiro as consisting of Rosell (119,999 shares) and Almeira Precht (one share).

Arruda and Silva de Oliveira were indicted as responsible for failing to organise an open tender for the contract in collaboration with Ailanto Marketing.

The administration of the Federal District of Brasilia, during Arruda’s governorship, had come into question in the long-running mensalao bribery scandal. Silva de Oliveira held a string of senior ministries for a decade in the federal district’s government.

The case was delayed by disputes over the confidentiality of contracts, a need for inquiries in both Switzerland and Brazil as well as confusion, at one stage, over whether the case called into question organisational arrangements for World Cup finals matches in Brasilia.

Judge Lizandro Garcia Gomes barred Arruda and Silva de Oliveira from holding public office for four years and three years respectively and fined both with interest, still to be calculated. Ailanto was found not guilty on the basis that the company no longer existed.

Both are expected to apply to have the judgment set aside pending appeal.