By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Polícia Federal (Federal Police) has announced the opening of a investigation into possible ramifications of the corruption scandal at football (soccer) governing body FIFA in Brazil. Brazilian José Maria Marin, the former President of the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF), is one of the functionaries arrested and currently investigated for corruption by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI has opened an inquiry into the process of the election of Russia and Qatar as next hosts for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively, as well as into transmission and sponsoring contracts concluded during the World Cup in Brazil and South Africa. Seven high-level FIFA members already were arrested in the organization’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Brazilian minister of justice, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, and the country’s public prosecutor Rodrigo Janot, have now urged the federal police to investigate if the FBI’s findings. The stated aim is to see if it also includes crimes that may have been committed by Brazilian sport officials and businessmen.
Under suspicion in Brazil are sponsoring contracts, as well as the transmission of the Copa do Brasil, the Brazilian cup championship organized by the national federation.
Next to Marin, José Hawilla, owner of Traffic Group, and José Margulies, owner of a sports transmission company, were named as involved in Brazil. Hawilla has confessed to U.S. authorities to crimes of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice and agreed to pay a fine of US$151 million for participation in the scheme.
Rio de Janeiro-based Klefer Sports Marketing, which signed a contract with the Brazilian soccer confederation for marketing rights to the domestic soccer championship together with Traffic, reportedly already turned over all the documents requested pertaining to its contract to the Brazilian authorities.
The CBF has announced its full support for the investigations of the FBI and the Brazilian authorities and also reported that Marin, who was working as official representative and vice-president of the entity, has been relieved of all his functions immediately. The CBF even removed Marin’s name from their headquarter’s facade in Barra da Tijuca, in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone).
At the same time, Rio de Janeiro senator and former football professional, Romário, has reached enough signatures for the creation of a Parliamentary Inquiry Commission, a CPI, to investigate CBF and the Local Organizing Committee of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“This is the time we can moralize our football and we cannot miss the opportunity. We hope to dismantle the black box that exists within the CBF,” the senator stated.
If created, the CPI will have 180 days to investigate possible irregularities in matches of the Brazilian national team, championships organized by the CBF, as well as the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. Marin will be investigated for negotiating bribes of R$346 million for transmission rights of the Copa America given until 2023.
FIFA is currently meeting in Zurich, Switzerland for its 65th Congress and election of the next president. Current President Sepp Blatter seeks his fifth term and a result of the election is expected today (May 29th). Marco Polo Del Nero, president of the CBF, has left the event and returned to Rio this morning.
Before the Congress, on Wednesday, seven functionaries of FIFA were arrested. The Swiss police detained together with Marin, Jeffrey Webb, from the Caiman Islands, Costa Rican Eduardo Li, Nicaraguan Julio Rocha, British Costas Takkas, Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo and Rafael Esquivel from Venezuela.