Football is normally a source of great pride for most Brazilians but the events of the past few weeks have made the sporting industry look more like one of the country’s farcical ‘telenovelas’.
On Monday, Ricardo Teixeira, the boss of Brazil’s Football Confederation and the man in charge of preparations to host the 2014 World Cup, quit. It brings a rather colourful tenure to an untimely end.
In his 23 years in the job, Teixeira has been the subject of a congressional investigation that accused him of 13 crimes ranging from tax evasion to money laundering to misleading lawmakers, although no charges were ever brought. Last year he was cleared of allegations over bribes to vote for England’s 2018 World Cup bid.
So why exactly did he step down on Monday? Diverticulitis, apparently – a common but painful bowel condition.
His successor, José Maria Marin, is also quite a character it seems. Earlier this year the 79 year-old former politician was accused of pocketing a gold medal during a junior football tournament. He says it was a present. Watch the clip here.
To add to the drama, Brazil’s government is also at loggerheads with FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke. The Frenchman first got on the wrong side of the Brazilians by demanding the country change its legislation to allow the sale of beer during the upcoming matches.
Things only got worse this month when he was quoted as saying Brazil needed “a kick up the backside” to be ready in time for the World Cup. Valcke claimed the quote had been mistranslated from French. Journalists later said the interview was conducted in English.
So where does this leave the 2014 World Cup, and more importantly, Brazil? The 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro may give us some clues. After chaotic delays and obscene amounts of money spent (over 10 times as much as the original budget, according to some reports), the event went ahead as planned and helped promote Brazil’s image across the world. But hardly any of the infrastructure projects that had been promised, such as new roads and metro lines, ever materialised.
After the saga of the past few weeks, Brazilians will be hoping the World Cup has a happier ending this time.
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