KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Now you see him, now you don’t. Marco Polo Del Nero has quit yet again as president of the Brazilian federation after ensuring the succession falls to a loyal ‘yes-man’.
Del Nero, wanted for bribery and money-laundering in the United States and facing an imminent world football suspension, took ‘leave of absence’ in November then reclaimed power on Tuesday.
Today the 74-year-old resigned yet again, with probably permanent effect, after having ensured over the past six weeks that the presidency would fall not to previous deputy Marcus Antonio Vicente but to former police chief Colonel Antonio Carlos Nunes.
The latter thus becomes the third CBF president of a year which is only seven days old, the fourth in the last nine months and fifth in the past four years.
A statement from the CBF noted: “Dr Marco Polo Del Nero, for personal reasons, has resigned, voluntarily and with effect from January 8, from the presidency of the federation for up to 150 days.”
Del Nero is expected to be subjected shortly to a provisional suspension by the FIFA ethics committee over the US indictment hence, despite the CBF note, the prospects of his third coming are minimal.
Nunes, president of the Paraense state federation and head of the Para state military police reserve, is an ally and friend of long-standing of Del Nero. Aged 77, he took over the key role of CBF senior vice-president after an election ‘arranged’ by Del Nero in mid-December.
CBF statutes rule that, on the departure of a president in mid-term, the senior vice-president takes over. Thus Del Nero outflanked long-term critic Delfim de Padua Peixoto Filho who, at 74, had previously been first in line to take over.
For years the CBF leadership was a model of tightly-controlled stability. Ricardo Teixeira, former son-in-law of ex-FIFA president Joao Havelange, was in charge from 1989 until March 2012 when he fled Rio for Miami Beach under pressure of scandal, notably concerning his illicit gains from ISL rthe former marketing partner of FIFA on whose executive committee he served
Teixeira was succeeded by his loyal, long-term No2 Jose Maria Marin who passed the baton to his own ally Del Nero after the 2014 World Cup.
Their empire began to totter last May when Marin was among the ‘Zurich Seven’ detained on a US extradition warrant in Zurich in the FIFAGate corruption scandal. Del Nero fled Switzerland immediately and has not dared leave Brazl since for fear of his own arrest.
While Del Nero stays home he is safe because citizens cannot be extradited though, inevitably and eventually, he was kicked off the FIFA exco because of his failure to attend meetings.
Last month Del Nero and Teixeira were named in a further FIFAGate indictment which has placed him at imminent risk of being suspended by the FIFA ethics committee. Hence the haste to ensure the CBF presidency passed into ‘safe hands.’
In November Del Nero stepped down temporarily from the CBF leadership ‘to attend to matters of concern’ which also included a shaming appearance before a parliamentary inquiry delving into the CBF’s commercial deals.
Del Nero’s responses to some of the questions provoked derisive laughter of disbelief as he insisted on memory lapses, in particular concerning trips abroad.
Brazilian sources have suggested Del Nero may have returned to tye CBF offices briefly also to oversee the destruction of possible incriminating documents and electronic records.
Similar allegations have been raised in Paraguay over the recent activities of Gorka Villar, secretary-general of South American confederation CONMEBOL. Villar, son of FIFA and UEFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar, has been notified of possible legal action in Uruguay over alleged misconduct in office.