FIFA scandal splits Brazil stars

2015-06-11 08:11

Sao Paulo - The arrest of one former Brazilian soccer boss, and an investigation into at least one other, has divided some of the country's footballing giants.

Former top stars Romario, Ronaldo and Cafu have all chimed in about the FIFA corruption scandal since the former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Jose Maria Marin, was one of seven FIFA executives jailed in Switzerland late last month.

Marin, also a member of the FIFA organising committee for soccer in the Olympics, is in a Zurich prison, where he faces possible extradition to the U.S. to face racketeering and bribery charges.

Ricardo Teixeira, the man who was president of the CBF for 23 years before Marin, is also under investigation by Brazil's federal police for alleged money laundering and tax evasion, a police source said last week.

Romario, the former Barcelona striker who is now a Senator, has taken the lead in calling for Marin's successor, Marco Polo Del Nero, to resign, saying the organisation needs a fresh start.

"Del Nero should call the press in and announce he is leaving the CBF," Romario said via Facebook and Twitter.

"The truth is that the CBF today has no commitment to football, grass roots football, women's football, the state championships."

Del Nero left Switzerland for Brazil within hours of the arrests, not even staying to vote in the election for FIFA president.

"Resigning doesn't exist for me, because there is no reason to resign," he said at a news conference upon returning to Brazil.

Teixeira's lawyer said that Teixeira had not been formally accused of any crime. Lawyers for Marin could not be reached for comment.

Teixeira and Del Nero could not be reached for comment.

Romario, a member of the 1994 World Cup winning Brazilian team, has been one of the most vocal critics of those running Brazilian football and will chair an upcoming Congressional inquiry into the game.

He was backed by former AC Milan midfielder Leonardo, who called the CBF "dirty," and more visibly by Ronaldo, who also asked Del Nero to resign immediately.

But Ronaldo, who was a striker for Real Madrid and Barcelona, came under fire from former teammates for what some see as opportunism.

Ronaldo was a member of the 2014 World Cup Organising Committee and on friendly terms with FIFA and CBF bosses.

His about face brought him scorn on social media and prompted unease from former colleagues.

"It's easy now to say sack this guy and put that other guy in," Edmilson, a team-mate of Ronaldo's when Brazil won the World Cup in 2002, told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper ahead of last weekend's Champions League final in Berlin.

"Ronaldo participated in the organizing of the whole World Cup. And now he wants to get rid of Del Nero and Marin who were there with him?"

Cafu, captain of the 2002 team, told the same paper: "They are being accused and haven't been found guilty. So it's better to keep quiet and see what happens."

Brazilian players gathering in Chile for the Copa America - the tournament between South American national teams held every four years - are caught in the crossfire.

They were warned last year not to talk about politics but central defender Thiago Silva said their opinions don't matter anyway.

"No player is foolish enough to not understand what is happening in our country," Silva told reporters on the eve of Brazil's warm up game against Mexico.

"But when we wear this shirt, we are representing the CBF and under no circumstances can we be against it. Nothing we say is going to change anything, they are the ones that make the decisions."

Read more on:    fifa  |  ronaldo  |  romario  |  soccer  |  fifa bribery scandal


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