Brazil may pro­duce the best play­ers, but also most ve­nal and cor­rupt ad­min­is­tra­tors

Na­tion’s beau­ti­ful game tar­nished by those who care noth­ing of its legacy

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER

Greg Clarke might be for­given for feel­ing a lit­tle un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated when he takes his seat in the Royal Box at Wem­b­ley on Tues­day night. But if the chair­man of the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion con­sid­ers him­self em­bat­tled then he should take a look at his Brazil­ian coun­ter­part.

Not that it will be pos­si­ble to do so, be­cause Marco Polo del Nero, the pres­i­dent of the Brazil­ian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (CBF), will not be at Wem­b­ley. He might have the name of a fa­mous ex­plorer but cur­rently the 76-year-old is not trav­el­ling out­side of Brazil on his lawyers’ ad­vice. To do so would be to risk ar­rest and ex­tra­di­tion to the United States, where he has been in­dicted by the FBI on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion and fraud two years ago. Since then he has not even risked a week­end mini-break in Paraguay.

The re­turn to Wem­b­ley of the Brazil team, those pur­vey­ors of o jogo bonito is al­ways a cause for cel­e­bra­tion. Since be­ing ham­mered 7-1 by Ger­many in Belo Hor­i­zonte three sum­mers ago they have dipped into their own vast re­sources of na­tive foot­ballers and emerged anew. Fifa’s top-ranked side have Gabriel Je­sus at cen­tre-for­ward, Casemiro in mid­field and so much choice else­where that there is not even a guar­an­teed start­ing place for Philippe Coutinho.

Yet just as Brazil pro­duces the great­est foot­ballers in the world in jaw-drop­ping quan­ti­ties year af­ter year, it is also cursed with pro­duc­ing the most ve­nal and cor­rupt sport­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors in what is an ad­mit­tedly crowded field.

While Del Nero plays it safe in Brazil, his pre­de­ces­sor Jose Maria Marin, an 85-year-old for­mer politi­cian, is one of three South Amer­i­can foot­ball ex­ec­u­tives who will go on trial on Mon­day in a Brook­lyn court in New York City charged with cor­rup­tion and fraud. Marin has been liv­ing un­der house ar­rest in his Trump Tower apart­ment but if he is found guilty there is ev­ery chance that he will die in a US jail.

The for­mer CBF pres­i­dent Ri­cardo Teix­eira, who reigned for 23 years, is also un­able to leave Brazil for fear of ex­tra­di­tion to Spain or the US. His for­mer busi­ness part­ner San­dro Rosell, once pres­i­dent of Barcelona, was ar­rested in Spain in May on money-laun­der­ing charges. Teix­eira was one of the big beasts of that Fifa ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee that carved up the host­ing of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the ap­petite to see the 70-year-old face jus­tice is such that rather than try to bring him to Spain’s courts, Spain courts may in­stead go to him.

There is no ex­tra­di­tion fa­cil­ity for Brazil­ian cit­i­zens in the Brazil­ian con­sti­tu­tion so the Span­ish at­tor­ney gen­eral has pro­posed that the coun­try hands its cor­rup­tion case over to its coun­ter­parts in Brasilia to pros­e­cute Teix­eira them­selves.

Such is the anti-Fifa sen­ti­ment in Brazil, that there is a pub­lic wave of sup­port be­hind the move.

The Brazil­ian in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Jamil Chade, who has been re­spon­si­ble for un­cov­er­ing the lat­est Teix­eira scan­dal, says that the only worth­while legacy of the 2014 World Cup, of which Marin headed the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, and the Rio Olympics of 2016, has been greater pub­lic po­lit­i­cal con­scious­ness. Chade says: “The per­cep­tion of the

In a spot of ex­treme op­por­tunism last month, there was a let­ter from shadow sports min­is­ter Dr Rosena Allin-Khan to the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, signed by 138 MPs, ask­ing that un­sold tick­ets for Eng­land games be given away for free.

De­spite the fact that the FA gave away 7,000 tick­ets to schools and com­mu­nity groups for the un­der­at­tended World Cup qual­i­fier against Slove­nia, with all the prob­lems that cre­ates with fans who pay face value, that was not enough for the MPs in ques­tion.

There is also the is­sue that many pop­u­la­tion re­gard­ing politi­cians and sports of­fi­cials is that we were be­trayed.” The legacy in terms of fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit or in­fra­struc­ture is non-ex­is­tent.

Chade’s new book Po­lit­ica, Propina e Fute­bol – Pol­i­tics, Bribes and Foot­ball – de­tails the dis­mal af­ter­math of the 2014 fi­nals in a coun­try where there is al­ready so much poverty.

For ev­ery $9 spent on stag­ing the tour­na­ment, the of­fi­cial es­ti­mates are that $8 came from pub­lic cof­fers. There is no pub­lic pro­vi­sion of or­gan­ised sport with those who can af­ford it pay­ing for them and their fam­i­lies to par­tic­i­pate.

Chade says that of the 12 new sta­di­ums con­structed, only six re­main fi­nan­cially vi­able. The 40,549 ca­pac­ity Arena Ama­zo­nia, where Eng­land be­gan their short-lived cam­paign against Italy, is so ex­pen­sive to run that the gate rev­enue does not cover the cost of turn­ing on the lights for night matches.

The sta­di­ums in Brasilia, Na­tal and Cuiaba are white ele­phants with re­ports two years ago that the chang­ing rooms in Cuiaba, a re­mote area with­out a fa­mous club, are be­ing used by the home­less.

Yet for Chade the sad­dest sto­ries are the mar­quee venues of Sao Paulo, where the first game of the tour­na­ment was played, and the fa­mous Mara­cana in Rio de Janeiro, which staged the fi­nal. There is no team in the Mara­cana with Fla­mengo, the ob­vi­ous choice, play­ing their games else­where. The Sao Paulo venue, which suf­fered deaths of work­ers dur­ing its con­struc­tion, is now the home of Corinthi­ans but is a fi­nan­cial bur­den, cost­ing more to run than can be gen­er­ated in rev­enue.

The old men who are al­leged to have or­gan­ised this cor­rupt World Cup are yet to face jus­tice. The peo­ple bear the cost. Only the team in yel­low jer­seys carry the flag. “At the fi­nal Fifa press con­fer­ence in 2014 I asked Sepp Blat­ter what we were go­ing to do with the sta­di­ums that had been built,” Chade says. “With his lips tight shut he just held up his fore­fin­ger and drew a ques­tion mark in the air.” peo­ple who are given free tick­ets of­ten sim­ply do not turn up – a strange quirk of hu­man na­ture, but an ac­cepted fact among those who mar­ket foot­ball matches for a liv­ing.

Of course, there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing else of im­por­tance cur­rently go­ing on in West­min­ster that re­quires MPs’ at­ten­tion, so no doubt these keen stu­dents of in­ter­na­tional at­ten­dances will be all over Scot­land’s friendly with Hol­land on Thurs­day.

The Scot­tish FA did not sell out the 20,961 ca­pac­ity Pit­to­drie, at­tract­ing a crowd of 17,883. One can only as­sume the let­ter is in the post.

A hand­ful: Brazil are blessed with the likes of Gabriel Je­sus but cursed by cor­rup­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.