KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA’s ethics committee has decided it needs more time to reach a verdict on the future of Marco Polo del Nero, the suspended Brazilian confederation president who was indicted by the United States Justice Department all the way back in December 2015.
In January Del Nero told a world football federation ethics panel that he was totally innocent of all allegations of bribery and corruption laid against him in the FIFAGate corruption inquiry.
Del Nero, 76, had been suspended in December for 90 days pending the outcome of an investigation into apparently damning evidence delivered in the New York trial of Jose Maria Maria, his presidential predecessor.
Both men had been indicted in the US investigation; the difference was that Marin was detained for extradition in Zurich in May 2015 on the eve of FIFA Congress while Del Nero, learning about the arrest, took the next flight home.
Brazilian citizens are precluded from extradition from the country by a clause in the constitution. Hence Del Nero has remained in Brazil ever since and refused to travel abroad even with his own national team.
Del Nero, who denies all wrongdoing, was indicted in the US on seven charges including money laundering and the receipt of $6.5m in bribes in connection with the award of broadcast and marketing rights to South American international competitions.
Marin was found guilty in December on similar charges, which he denied, and will be sentenced for an expected prison term in April.
Del Nero refused to face the FIFA ethics panel in person and was granted permission to participate via video link, supported by two lawyers. Local media reports in Rio de Janeiro state that he repeatedly insisted on his innocence during the five-and-a-half-hour hearing.
Sources close to Del Nero have claimed that FIFA had no independent evidence of its own and had drawn entirely on US DoJ documentation underpinnning three charges for fraud, three for money laundering and one for participating in a criminal organisation.
His 90-day suspension expired today and the ethics committee has announced it is taking up its option of extending it by a further 45 days. The suspension cannot be extended beyond then.
Brazilian reports have claimed that, while waiting, Del Nero has been working behind the scenes to ‘assist’ the selection of a successor if he is banned permanently from all football activity.
FIFA ethics statement:
On 15 December 2017, the chairperson of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee provisionally banned the president of the Brazilian FA (CBF), Mr Marco Polo Del Nero, for a duration of 90 days.
Today, the chairperson has decided to extend this provisional suspension for an additional period of 45 days.
During this time, Mr Polo Del Nero will continue to be banned from all football-related activities at both national and international level. The extension of the ban will commence tomorrow, 15 March 2018.
This decision was taken at the request of the chief of investigation of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee carrying out the formal investigation proceedings into Mr Polo Del Nero, pursuant to art. 85 par. 1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
This request accompanied the submission of the final report to the adjudicatory chamber, which has today also decided to open adjudicatory proceedings.