Brazilian Senate begins investigating local confederation
Jul. 14, 2015
SAO PAULO (AP) — The Brazilian Senate has started its investigation into the national football confederation, putting former star player Romario in charge of the probe.
The senator had requested the investigation after the FIFA corruption scandal broke in May and the congressional committee was officially installed on Tuesday with the aim of looking into allegations of wrongdoing by local officials.
"We will investigate crimes that involve money laundering, unjust enrichment, corruption, extortion, financial fraud and others," Romario said. "I'm certain that Brazil wants to see our sport free of corruption and the people who tarnished our football behind bars so we can finally begin a new phase."
Confederation vice president Jose Maria Marin, a former confederation president, was among the officials detained in Switzerland after the investigations by U.S. authorities. He is currently awaiting an extradition ruling.
Romario said the committee plans to fully investigate Marin and current confederation president Marco Polo Del Nero, as well as Marin's predecessor, Ricardo Teixeira, who is under investigation in Brazil for corruption related to bank transfers during preparations for the 2014 World Cup.
There have been widespread calls for Del Nero's resignation, but he maintains he has done nothing wrong and will remain in charge of Brazilian football.
After the FIFA scandal broke, Del Nero introduced term limits for confederation presidents, keeping them from being in power for more than eight consecutive years. Presidents will be elected to four-year terms and will have the right to be re-elected only once.
Teixeira was in power for 23 years before resigning citing medical reasons, amid allegations of corruption involving his administration. He was not specifically named in the FIFA investigation, but U.S. authorities have linked "Marin's predecessor" to bribes.
Among the next steps for the congressional committee is to schedule meetings with public prosecutors, the federal police and the justice ministry. Romario said the committee will also ask for contributions from the U.S. authorities working on the FIFA probe.
Romario said he will request access to all of the confederation's accounts.
"I can guarantee that part of our work is to break the secrecy of the confederation, federations, clubs and officials," he said. "I'm 100 percent prepared to promote a conclusive change in our football. I hope that with this congressional committee we can modernize our football."
A prolific striker in his playing career, Romario led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title in the United States.
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