Ricardo Teixeira: the major power in Brazilian football


— Under-fire Ricardo Teixeira is to step down – temporarily, initially – from his roles not only as the head of the local 2014 World Cup organising authority but as president of the Brazilian football confederation.

CBF officials have indicated that they expect Teixeira to hand over his leadership for a period of around 40 days between December 19 and January 31, on health grounds. This was the reasoning given by Teixeira’s former father-in-law Joao Havelange last weekend when the ex-president of FIFA quit the International Olympic Committee.

It will be a major surprise if Teixeira subsequently reclaims the levers of power. Inevitably, if he is “not well enough to continue” his future as a member of the FIFA executive committee will also be cast into doubt.

Havelange, 95, used health concerns as a route out of the IOC to evade the humiliating likelihood of being sanctioned for, allegedly, receiving more than $1m in illicit payments from the now-bankrupt ISL, former marketing partner of both FIFA and the IOC.

Teixeira, it is understood, will say he is seeking medical advice abroad. This will have the convenient outcome of easing the personal pressure he faces from two domestic inquiries into his financial and commercial and sporting affairs. He is the focus of a parliamentary inquiry over funds for a friendly match played by the Brazil national team and is also the subject of a fraud squad investigation into allegations of money-laundering.

The latter case is also connected to ISL. Teixeira and his brother Guillerme Terra have both already been interviewed once about their involvements in a Liechtenstein Stiftung called Sanud which allegedly chanelled money into a Brazilian company without proper formalities.

Teixeira’s “interim exit” from Brazilian football is currently timed for two days after the next scheduled meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Toyko, at the conclusion of the FIFA Club World Cup. It is not known whether he plans to attend or not.

FIFA plea to Rousseff

Jerome Valcke, secretary-general of FIFA, asked Brazil’s state President Dilma Rousseff back in October if she could effect the departure of Teixeira from his twin posts of power. Rousseff, who had already distanced herself from Teixeira in any case, refused. She was already then about to appoint a new Sports Minister in Aldo Rebelo after the scandal-enforced resignation of Orlando Silva.

Already Teixeira has indicated his intention to appoint one-time World Cup-winning hero Ronaldo as replacement president of COL. This was intended to try to appease critics but has not worked. Earlier this week a senior judge criticised Ronaldo’s appointment as being a mere “front” for Teixeira.

The outgoing president of Corinthians of Sao Paulo, Andres Sanchez, has just been lined up by Teixeira to take over as next president of the CBF. At that time Teixeira has insisted he would not be stepping down until after Brazil had hosted the 2014 World Cup finals.

In South America its is reported regularly that Teixeira has ambitions to run for the FIFA presidency in 2015 but this is not taken seriously in Europe, partly because of the corruption allegations which have long swirled around him and partly because of previous, apparently justified, health issues.

Teixeira was one of three South American football leaders accused by Lord David Triesman, former head of both England’s 2018 World Cup bid and the Football Association, of seeking inducements in exchange for their votes in the exco ballot last December. Teixeira denied the accusations, made under the protection of UK parliamentary privilege to an MPs’ inquiry into football governance.

Pressure building up over alleged corruption within FIFA led president Sepp Blatter to launch a reform process. In tandem with this, Blatter proposed to ‘publish’ in one form or another a Swiss court document said to ‘name names’ paid illicit sums by ISL back in the 1990s on connection with the acquisition of TV marketing contracts.

The ‘publication’ has been halted because of legal action undertaken by an unnamed third party. Blatter has stated that the individuals named in the document are not Swiss.