Romario vows to investigate FIFA irregularities

Romario vows to investigate FIFA irregularities

Published Nov. 10, 2011 8:56 p.m. ET

Former star striker Romario is pledging to step up his efforts in Brazil's parliament to shed light on alleged irregularities involving FIFA and Brazilian football federation president Ricardo Teixeira.

Romario, now a congressman, said he is teaming up with other Brazilian legislators to investigate football's governing body ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Romario will pressure Swiss authorities to release documents which allegedly show that Teixeira was one of the members accused of taking kickbacks from a former FIFA marketing partner in the 1990s.

Teixeira is president of the organizing committee for the 2014 World Cup.


Romario said on his website Thursday that he and other legislators will ask Swiss authorities to let them review files from a court case involving former FIFA marketing partner ISL, which collapsed in 2001.

Romario said access to the documents is ''crucial for the (World Cup) to take place with clarity and honesty in our country.''

British broadcaster BBC has reported that court documents name Teixeira and President Sepp Blatter's predecessor, Joao Havelange, as two FIFA members who repaid kickbacks worth $7 million. FIFA has blocked the court in Zug from identifying the officials.

Blatter last month promised to release the files from the 10-year-old corruption scandal as part of his efforts to reform FIFA and world football after a slew of scandals involving bribery, vote-rigging and ticket scams. He said his executive committee will reopen the ISL dossier at a Dec. 16-17 meeting in Tokyo.

Teixeira and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke participated in a congressional committee meeting Wednesday, in which Romario asked them several questions about alleged irregularities involving the Brazilian football official and the sports' governing body, but got few and evasive answers from the duo.

The congressional committee was meeting to discuss the approval of a law needed for the 2014 World Cup and was not directly related to Romario's decision to investigate Teixeira and FIFA.

In his first year as a congressman, Romario has been very active in monitoring Brazil's preparations for the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics, saying he wants to make sure that everything will be ready in time and that public money will be well spent.

''I was elected by thousands of votes to occupy this chair,'' he said. ''I've have nothing against FIFA or against the Brazilian federation, but as a congressman I have the responsibility to defend the sovereignty of my country. I will fight until I can't to keep FIFA from establishing a state within this state.''

The Brazilian Congress has twice investigated Teixeira for alleged wrongdoing, but the inquiries were never completed.

One of the most powerful men in Brazilian football, Teixeira has been repeatedly attacked by local media over alleged irregularities during his reign since taking over the federation in 1989.

Earlier this year, a prosecutor ordered Brazilian police to investigate him over a money transfer allegedly stemming from the ISL kickbacks.

Teixeira has never been convicted and denies any wrongdoing.

He recently also was accused of unethical behavior by the former chairman of England's Football Association, David Triesman, who said during a British parliamentary inquiry that Teixeira and other FIFA executive committee members engaged in improper conduct during bidding for the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA dismissed those accusations, and the Brazilian official said the allegations were made because the English were upset over losing the World Cup bid.


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