Brazil Sports Minister Backs Scandal-Hit Soccer Head Teixeira

Brazil’s Sports Minister Orlando Silva said that the head of the country’s soccer federation is likely to remain in his post through the 2014 World Cup even though he’s among FIFA executives accused of corruption.

Ricardo Teixeira was alleged in a British Broadcasting Corp. program in May to have been the beneficiary of bribes paid by FIFA’s bankrupt former marketing partner ISL. The BBC also named other officials, including Joao Havelange, FIFA’s former president and Teixeira’s one-time father-in-law.

Silva, in an interview June 15 in Sao Paulo, said the 63-year-old Teixeira must be presumed innocent because he isn’t being investigated for the alleged misconduct by FIFA or Brazilian authorities.

“To name names doesn’t help, the allegations need to be investigated,” said Silva, who is overseeing Brazil’s preparations to host the World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. “The most likely outcome is that Ricardo Teixeira will stay in his job.”

Rodrigo Paiva, director of public relations at the Brazilian soccer federation said the group wouldn’t comment on “unfounded allegations.”

The Zurich-based FIFA, which gets $4 billion from its quadrennial soccer tournament, has found itself engulfed with corruption claims against several of its top executives. Mohamed Bin Hammam, the head of soccer in Asia, and FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, were suspended by the body pending an investigation into claims they offered Caribbean officials $40,000 in cash each to choose Bin Hammam over incumbent Sepp Blatter in a presidential election.

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh has been hired to look into the case. The results of the inquiry are expected at the end of the month. The claims have rattled FIFA’s sponsors and partner organizations like European soccer governing body, UEFA.

FIFA and Romario

The International Olympic Committee confirmed in a statement today it’s looking into Havelange, 95, who headed FIFA between 1974 and 1998 and remains its longest serving member. The organization is also looking into claims made by the BBC against another official, Issa Hayatou, who’s head of soccer in Africa.

Its ethics commission “has received supporting documents from the BBC and is now in the process of verifying the authenticity of the material that has been gathered so far,” the IOC statement said.

Teixeira has faced corruption allegations in the past.

Brazil’s Congress investigated him for allegedly profiting from contracts signed between the country’s soccer federation and Nike Inc. After a three year inquiry, the Senate approved a report detailing financial irregularities by 17 of the country’s top soccer officials, including Teixeira.

Federal prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence in the 1,600-page report that detailed allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and the falsification of documents to take the matter to trial.

Romario de Souza Faria, the best player in 1994 USA World Cup, and a lawmaker in Brazil’s parliament, said last month that Teixeira should appear before Congress to answer all the allegations leveled against him.

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