BRASILIA/ONDON:  Sepp Blatter and old World Cup hero Romario have held a secret meetings to put together a strategy to remove  controversial Ricardo Teixeira and the Brazilian football confederation from  the 2014 World Cup preparations writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Back in October FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke asked Brazil’s state President, Dilma Rousseff, to sideline Teixeira. She refused, partly because the approach did not come directly, as protocol demanded, from FIFA president Blatter.

However new moves are under way to remove Teixeira who is on leave of absence from football on health grounds while remaining under heavy pressure over his financial affairs in general and the ISL scandal in particular.

Sources close to Rousseff’s office have indicated that Pele – her personally-appointed World Cup Ambassador in defiance of Teixeria – took advantage of the recent FIFA Gala in Zurich to discuss with Blatter how to ensure a Teixeira-free future.

The following day Blatter also held a two-hour meeting with  Romario, the 1994 World Cup-winning hero who is now a congressman and who has been an outspoken critic of the World Cup preparations being undertaken in Brazil and the demands on the country made by the world federation.

They are reported to have discussed putting together a Brazilian World Cup steering group which would comprise several Congressmen, a representative of Rousseff, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo and the Minister of Finance. This would take over the domestic co-ordination  role currently claimed by the organising authority headed, until recently, by Teixeira who remains the power behind the throne on which 2002 superstar Ronaldo now sits uneasily.

Romario has said that an agreement is close and should be announced “at an event” in Brazil within weeks.

He  also suggested that, in line with optimistic words this week in Brazil from Valcke, the country and the world federation are close to a compromise over outstanding legal issues such as ticket prices for 2014.