KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Here they all are: the men whose smiles have now been wiped off their faces by United States investigators; co-conspirators all lined up together, shoulder to greedy shoulder, before the FIFA apocalypse.
This was the power picture which adorned the calendar produced by CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, for 2014.
South America was about to see no fewer than six of its national teams take centre stage at the World Cup finals in Brazil. Only four would be missing. No wonder the members of the CONMEBOL executive committee in this picture all look so happy. Think of the publicity, think of television deals, think of all the commercial contracts, think of the sponsor spin-offs.
Think of the money.
Only two have not been indicted by the US. One is dead and the other, Uruguayan Sebastian Bauza, has already been forced to step down as local federation president by his own government.
Samba style slickers
One imagines that no-one was happier, back when this picture was taken, than Marco Polo Del Nero and Jose Maria Marin, in the front row: then the president-elect and president, respectively, of the Brazilian football confederation.
The CBF had been a target for virulent attack down all the years since before the notorious arch-finance-fixer Ricardo Teixeira fled to Miami; but his departure in early 2012 had changed nothing. The CBF had friends in Very High Political Places.
Anyway, Teixeira had put his place-men in position to secure his legacy and was still being paid a lucrative consultancy fee in grateful thanks for his years of service to his and his friends’ deep pockets.
With the Brazilian World Cup around the corner, Del Nero and Marin could afford to be generous with everyone else’s money. Among other tricks to impress they were planning the purchase of more than 60 luxury watches to hand out as extravagant largesse to the members of the FIFA executive committee and heads of the World Cup finalists’ delegations.
Little did they know that already the winds of change were blowing down from the north towards their house of cards. Unknown to all these calendar boys, up in New York Chuck Blazer had already started talking to the IRS and the FBI, spilling the beans.
The rest, is (recent) history.
This is how events have overtaken the men fronting up the CONMEBOL calendar:
Back row (from the left):
Rafael Esquivel (then president of the Venezuelan federation):
Arrested in Switzerland last May and appealing against the granting of an extradition application from the United States;
Sebastian Bauza (then Uruguayan federation president):
Forced to resign as AUF president by the government after being summoned by a Montevideo court to make a witness statement; has denied wrongdoing and is the only man (alive) in the picture not indicted by the US DoJ;
Manuel Burga (then Peruvian federation president):
Arrested in Lima on Friday on a FIFAGate corruption indictment from the US DoJ;
Carlos Chavez (then outgoing federation president in Bolivia as well as CONMEBOL treasurer):
Indicted last week by the US while having already been detained in Bolivia on charges of misconduct in office;
Jose Luis Meiszner (CONMEBOL secretary-general):
Indicted last week by the US, interviewed by police in Argentina and appealing for the right to house arrest;
Juan Angel Napout (then Paraguayan federation president and later CONMEBOL president):
‘Lifted’ by Swiss police last Thursday at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich on a US extradition warrant;
Seated (from the left):
Luis Bedoya (then Colombia federation president, CONMEBOL vice-president and FIFA exco member):
Pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy; has agreed to forfeit all money deposited in his Swiss bank account
Luis Chiriboga (then federation president in Ecuador):
Currently detained under house arrest in Ecuador after being named in the latest US indictment;
Julio Grondona (then federation president in Argentina and first vice-president and finance committee chairman of FIFA):
Long suspected of illicit financial manoeuvring but never charged and died in July 2014 shortly after returning home after the World Cup;
Eugenio Figueredo (Uruguayan, then president of CONMEBOL and a vice-president of FIFA):
Arrested in Switzerland last May 27 and appealing against the granting of an extradition application from the United States;
Marco Polo Del Nero (then CONMEBOL delegate on the FIFA executive committee):
Indicted last week by the US, had already been removed by CONMEBOL from the FIFA exco and has now stood down ‘temporarily’ from the presidency of the CBF;
Jose Maria Marin (then CBD president and head of the local organising committee of the 2014 FIFA World Cup):
Hauled out of bed by Swiss police last May at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich on a US extradition warrant and seeking bail and house arrest in New York;
Sergio Jadue (then federation president in Chile):
Has pleaded guilty in the US to racketeering, conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.
So who is next? And . . . on which calendar will we find the picture?