Teixeira exit seen as boon for Brazil's World Cup

13 March 2012 06:47

The resignation of Ricardo Teixeira, the corruption-tainted boss of Brazilian football, marks the end of an era of "absolute power" and brings hopes of a more transparent 2014 World Cup, according to analysts.

"The era of absolute power is over," sports analyst Juca Kfouri, who has been tracking Teixeira's career for years, told sports channel ESPN.

Teixeira, who had led the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) since 1989, handed over his post to his deputy, 79-year-old Jose Maria Marin, on Monday and also resigned as head of Brazil's organizing committee (COL) for the 2014 World Cup.

His 22-year stewardship of CBF was marred by controversy, with repeated calls for his resignation amid allegations of irregularities in Brazil and abroad.

Teixeira, 64, allegedly took millions of dollars worth of bribes in the 1990s from the Switzerland-based ISL sports marketing company that later went bankrupt.

He was also accused of diverting public funds from a friendly match played by Brazil in 2008.

"The CBF is a black box, an impenetrable kingdom," Marcos Guterman, author of the book 'Football Explains Brazil: A Story of the Biggest Popular Expression of the Country', told AFP.

"There was no control. No open accounts, no external auditing. Everything revolved around Teixeira.

"With the departure of a figure so tied to scandals, concentration of power, influence-peddling and backroom dealings, condemned by so many Brazilians, it is possible that the clubs will now conduct themselves in a more transparent and open manner.

"And the World Cup and its organisation may be more transparent."

Marin, who is succeeding Teixeira both as CBF chief and head of COL, vowed to ensure continuity but faced immediate calls for more transparency in the running of the confederation and preparations for the 2014 World Cup, which Brazil is hosting.

Elena Landau, a lawyer and economist specialising in football, said that with the departure of Teixeira, "the CBF must stop being untouchable".

"CBF is what it is because it exploits perhaps the most important cultural trait of the Brazilian people, which is the love of football," she told Globo's CBN radio.

Unlike her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President Dilma Rousseff always kept her distance from Teixeira and never granted him an audience.

Teixeira's departure was "quite a coup" for President Dilma, according to Kfouri.

Lawmaker Alvaro Dias, who investigated the CBF in 2001, meanwhile saw it as an opportunity for the government to gain more space in the organisation of the World Cup.

"The Cup is being organised with public funds, the government must assume its responsibility," he added.

Guterman and other analysts did, however, point to Teixeira's positive legacy, saying he "transformed the national squad into something professional and won two World Cups (1994 and 2002), while the 2014 Cup in Brazil is a reality".

And the CBF today has 11 sponsors, which pay it $126 million annually.

But the experts deplored the fact that the national squad only plays abroad, in line with the interests of its sponsors, at the expense of the interests of Brazilian fans.

Brazil's former striker and 1994 World Cup winner Romario, now a lawmaker and a frequent critic of organisational progress for the World Cup, compared the departure of Teixeira to "extirpating a cancer" and demanded a thorough CBF clean-up, which, he quickly added, was "very difficult, if not impossible".

"Marin (whose term as CBF chief ends in 2015) represents continuity, if not a step backward," the daily Folha de Sao Paulo said in an editorial.

"The overhaul of CBF will be difficult in the coming years."

At least four of Brazil's 27 football federations (Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais and Bahia) have called for immediate elections to choose a new president for the confederation.

Source: AFP

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