RIO DE JANEIRO: Romario, World Cup hero turned senator, has returned to the attack on corruption at the heart of the Brazilian football confederation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The CBF failed last week in a court attempt to prevent publication of his new book which is based on the evidence turned up by the parliamentary inquiry Romario led into corruption allegations.
Three CBF presidents are under fire: current CBF leader Marco Polo del Nero and predecessors Jose Maria Marin and Ricardo Teixeira. All three have been indicted in the United States’ FIFAGate investigation but only Marin is under house arrest in New York awaiting trial. They all deny wrongdoing.
Both Teixeira and Del Nero remain in Brazil from which citizens cannot be extradited. Spanish investigators are also pursuing Teixeira over his financial links with former Nike executive and Barcelona supremo Sandro Rosell.
Amazingly, Del Nero has been allowed to stay in his job by the fractured and now-discredited ethics committee of world federation FIFA.
Romario, Brazil’s top-scoring 1994 World Cup-winner, has spent the best part of the last decade leading attacks on the CBF leadership. His book is entitled Um olho na bola, outro no cartola (One Eye on the Ball, One Eye on the Bosses) and subtitled : Organised crime in Brazilian football.
In launching his book, Romario said: “People will be surprised when they know what has been going on within the CBF. We discovered that the current president, Marco Polo del Nero, has suspicious bank accounts in tax havens in the name of a third person.”
Romario also noted that successive national team coaches had been under orders to play their most famous names in friendly matches to meet the terms of financial guarantees.
Rosell, currently in detention in Spain where he denies all wrongdoing, is alleged to have connived at the diversion of friendly match fees into offshore accounts.
Romario was dismissive of the CBF attempt to silence him, saying: “They know that all the evidence is documented . . . all the nonsense they do is to illicitly enrich themselves.”
He added: “This sport is very beautiful within the four lines of the pitch but outside it’s rotten. Football had given me a lot so, as a politician, it was my duty to return that favour.”
Ultimately, Romario said, he wanted to see Teixeira, Marin and Del Nero all end up in prison because “the money taken could have been applied to other areas in need.”
A judge ruled against the CBF application to prevent publication on the grounds of public interest. The CBF had claimed that Romario had breached the confidentiality of the parliamentary hearings.
Last year FIFA’s ethics committee was stripped of its independence by congress at the request of president Gianni Infantino. Subsequently it approved his further move to sack joint chairmen Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely who had brought down dozens of corrupt senior directors and officers in the world game.