BELO HORIZONTE: The phone taps undertaken by police investigating a vast World Cup tickets scam have thrown up other football issues writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Phone calls were monitored over three months from the phone of the alleged ring-leader, a French-Algerian identified as Mohamadou Fofana, by Rio civil police and Public Affairs Ministry agents.
One particular call was a discussion about World Cup tickets with Roberto Assis, the brother and agent of veteran ex-Brazil forward Ronaldinho who inspired Atletico Mineiro last year to victory in the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
According to the recording, released by police to Rio de Janeiro media, Assis discussed with Fofana, who lives in Dubai, an offer to for the 2002 World Cup-winner to play in the Gulf state which will host the World Cup on 2022.
Atletico’s director of football, Eduardo Maluf, said he not been aware of negotiations for the departure of Ronaldinho who earned a brief return to the Brazilian national squad in the spring of last year with his revived form after moving to the Belo Horizonte club in 2012.
Club president Alexandre Kalil broke off from negotiations over his electoral ambitions later this year to deny that he knew anything about Ronaldinho’s prospective departure.