KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Ricardo Teixeira is the Richard Nixon of Brazil. In 1962 Nixon’s public career was apparently over; he told the press: “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.” Yet six years later ‘Tricky Dicky’ was elected President of the United States.
As for Teixeira . . . In March 2012 he fled Brazil for Miami under pressure of accumulated financial scandals and persona non grata with the government of Workers’ Party leader Dilma Rousseff; exile cost Teixeira his presidencies of the Brazilian football confederation and World Cup local organising committee plus his membership of the executive committee of world federation FIFA.
But this past weekend Teixeira was back in Brazil, reportedly pulling all the puppet strings of patronage he still commands, on behalf of Aecio Neves who is bidding to oust the Rousseff whom Teixeira despises.
If Aecio, grandson of former President-elect Tancredo Neves, wins the election run-off – and he leads some polls – then Teixeira will no doubt hasten back to Rio de Janeiro to pick up where he left off before the kitchen grew a little too hot.
Teixeira and Aecio go back a long way. Both hail from the state of Minas Gerais and their careers rose in parallel: Aecio through media and politics and Teixeira through the business of sport which also in Brazil, of course, means politics.
Teixeira was the driving force behind Brazil choosing so many host cities for the World Cup. His nationwide reach was decisive, including back in Belo Horizonte. Here Aecio, as governor of Minas Gerais between 2007 and 2010, pushed through, at remarkably high speed, all the contracts to rebuild the Mineirao stadium.
An independent assessor commissioned by the state later noted a string of “irregularities” in the contract distribution. One man to benefit was architect Gustavo Penna, a friend of Aecio, whose company landed a £6m contract without having to enter a competitive tender.
Teixeira was photographed regularly while accompanying Aecio and Mayor Marcos Lacerda to check on building progress. Aecio, supported by a 64,000-signature petition, had hoped to land the Opening Match for the Mineirao while confusion surrounded FIFA’s preferential venue of Sao Paulo.
This was one deal Teixeira could not swing. In the end FIFA had its way and Sao Paulo staged the Opening Match (albeit in the new stadium tacked together in haste to please a most significant Corinthians fan in ex-President Lula).
Belo Horizonte’s consolation was a key role in the Confederations Cup and a busy package of matches at the World Cup – including, as it turned out, the historically sensational 7-1 defeat of Brazil by Germany in the semi-finals.
By then, of course, Teixeira had long since flown to Florida, leaving the Brazilian confederation and World Cup committee in the presidential caretaker hands of Jose Maria Marin, another old friend of Aecio and sworn opponent of Rousseff.
Marin has already arranged the CBF presidential succession to Marco Polo del Nero but only, of course, with the blessing of Teixeira, Brazilian football’s ‘king across the water’.
If Aecio wins the presidential election run-off on Sunday week then his friends and supporters will expect appropriate thanks.
In that case, also, Teixeira will surely be heading home.