KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Brazil’s FIFA exco member did not cast his country’s vote at the world football federation’s congress in Switzerland. Sensationally, Marco Polo Del Nero had fled the country.
Del Nero, also president of the Brazilian football confederation, was spooked into flight by the arrest and detention of Jose Maria Marin, his veteran predecessor.
Marin was one of the senior football power brokers arrested and detained after a dawn swoop by the Swiss police at the request of the United States Justice Department. He is contesting an extradition application to the US where he is accused of accepting more than $20m in bribes.
The 83-year-old faces a sentence of up to 20 years in jail if found guilty of charges arising out of commercial deals linked to international football tournaments in the Americas.
Del Nero is a 74-year-old lawyer who followed Marin as head of the Sao Paulo football federation before stepping into his CBF shoes, having also entered the FIFA hierarchy in 2012.
He and Marin are both members of the FIFA Olympic Games committee preparing for the football tournament in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Del Nero and his personal delegation checked out on Thursday night from the luxury Baur au Lac hotel. A FIFA spokesman confirmed that the federation had been notified of his departure but “did not know the reasons.”
They took immediate steps to fly out of the country, presumably to guard against being apprehended in connection with ongoing inquiries in both Switzerland and the US.
A CBF spokesman said Del Nero felt “uneasy” after Wednesday’s events. He was accompanied by the second member of the official CBF delegation, . Andre Pitta, head of the Goiana regional federation.
Del Nero should be safe back home. Brazil has a limited extradition treaty with the United States but this does not apply to Brazilian citizens because of a clause in the national constitution.
Brazil’s vote was cast at FIFA Congress by the one remaining member of the official CBF delegation, Mauro Carmelio, president of the Cearense association.
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