Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Brazilian World Cup organizer implicated in another scandal

Reuters, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

The president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and the man charged with organizing the 2014 World Cup was reportedly close to resigning on Wednesday, after a local newspaper implicated him in another corruption scandal.

Ricardo Teixeira, who has headed the CBF for 22 years, could step down as early as yesterday, O Globo newspaper reported.

The news came on the day another newspaper, Folha de S.Paulo, reported that a company linked to the soccer boss overcharged the organizers of a November 2008 friendly match between Brazil and Portugal in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Robinho were among the big names who played in the game Brazil won 6-2 with a hat-trick from Luis Fabiano.

Folha said the Ailanto Marketing firm charged almost twice the normal room rate in booking accommodation for the Brazil side and 40 members of the Portuguese delegation.

The local government of Brasilia spent 9 million reais (US$5.2 million) on the game, according to Folha.

It said Ailanto is the owner of another company called VSV Agropecuaria Empreendimentos Ltda, whose Rio de Janeiro business address is the same as that of a firm belonging to Teixeira.

Folha did not specify how Teixeira might have benefited from the overcharging.

Telephone calls to the CBF went unanswered and the prosecutors’ office handling the case declined to comment.

The allegations are the latest in a long string of accusations leveled against Teixeira, 64, who is also a member of world soccer ruling body FIFA’s executive committee.

In 2001, a Congressional investigation accused him of 13 crimes ranging from tax evasion to money laundering to misleading lawmakers, although no charges were ever brought.

Most recently, Teixeira was accused of taking more than US$1 million in bribes from ISL, the marketing firm that worked closely with FIFA in the 1990s.

Teixeira has denied any wrongdoing. Last year he told Brazilian magazine Piaui that the accusations against him were “all nonsense.”

With preparations for the 2014 World Cup behind schedule and over budget, the accusations have strained relations between Teixeira and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, prompting him to lower his public profile.

Teixeira remains the president of the World Cup Organizing Committee, but he has rarely appeared in public in recent months.

Instead, he has turned much of the media work over to former Real Madrid, Inter and Barcelona striker Ronaldo, whom he appointed to the committee’s management board on Dec. 1 last year.

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