Ricardo Teixeira resigned as head of the Brazilian soccer federation two years before the country hosts the World Cup, ending a 23-year tenure marked by an unmatched championship record during that period and accusations of corruption off the field.
Teixeira, who has suffered bouts of ill health this year, took Brazil to two victories from three World Cup finals, even as he faced investigations by Brazil’s Congress over alleged irregularities. The British Broadcasting Corp. named him as a beneficiary of bribes paid by FIFA’s bankrupt former marketing partner ISL in a separate case. He has denied the allegations.
“I did what was within my reach, sacrificing my health,” Teixeira, 64, said in a written statement yesterday. “I was criticized in the losses and undervalued in the victories.”
Planning for the 2014 edition of sport’s most-watched tournament has faced troubles including a deteriorating relationship between soccer’s world governing body and the Brazilian government. Last week, FIFA President Sepp Blatter issued an apology after Jerome Valcke, general secretary of the Zurich-based organization, said Brazil needed a “kick up the ass” to be ready for the tournament. A planned inspection visit scheduled for next week has been canceled.
Teixeira resigned yesterday as both president of Brazil’s soccer federation, or CBF, and as head of the organizing committee for the 2014 World Cup, according to the CBF press office in Rio de Janeiro. He was replaced in both posts by his vice president and former Sao Paulo governor Jose Maria Marin.
The BBC has also accused other FIFA officials, including Joao Havelange, Teixeira’s former father-in-law who preceded him as CBF head, of accepting payments. He denies the charge.
Teixeira A ‘Cancer’
“We can celebrate,” Romario De Souza Faria, a former Brazil striker who is currently a lawmaker, wrote on his Facebook page. “We have exterminated a cancer from Brazilian football. Finally Ricardo Teixeira resigned from the CBF.”
Teixeira had been head of the CBF since 1989 and sat on FIFA’s decision making executive committee since 1994. That body has found itself engulfed in corruption claims against several of its members since the 2010 vote for future World Cup hosts. At one point, almost half of its 24 members were either sanctioned or faced accusations of corruption. A year later FIFA’s presidential election ended with the only challenger to Blatter, Mohamed Bin Hammam, dropping out after being accused of paying $40,000 to Caribbean voters. Bin Hammam is appealing to sports’ top court against a life ban from soccer.
Teixeira’s resignation comes at a time when FIFA is attempting to reform itself.
A group set up last year headed by Swiss lawyer Mark Pieth, including former U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith and U.S. soccer chief Sunil Gulati, has yet to determine whether it will look into past allegations of wrongdoing.
FIFA has also delayed the publication of documents that name officials of the organization who have allegedly received bribes linked to ISL, according to the Zurich-based body.
Brazil’s Congress investigated Teixeira a decade ago for allegedly profiting from contracts signed between the CBF 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 described allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and the falsification of documents to take the matter to trial.