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Scandal splits Brazil's stars

By Reuters In Sao Paulo | China Daily | Updated: 2015-06-12 07:45

The arrest of one former Brazilian soccer boss and an investigation into at least one other has divided some of the country's sporting 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 organizing committee for soccer in the Olympics, is in a Zurich prison, where he faces possible extradition to the US 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 organization 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, grassroots football, women's football or the state championships."

Del Nero left Switzerland for Brazil within hours of the arrests and did not vote in FIFA's presidential election.

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

Romario, a member of the 1994 World Cup winning Brazilian team, has been one of the most vocal critics of those running Brazilian soccer 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 organizing committee and on friendly terms with FIFA and CBF bosses.

His reversal 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 teammate of Ronaldo's when Brazil won the World Cup in 2002, told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper ahead of the Champions League final in Berlin last weekend.

"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.


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