Once again Brazil’s success on the field will obscure another tragic defeat off it.
Ricardo Teixeira, the corrupt oligarch that has run Brazilian football since 1989, will be reelected for a 6th term as president of the Confederation of Brazilian Football (CBF) today.
He is a tax-dodging autocrat whose rule over Brazilian football has been dogged by scandal and accusations of enrichment and nepotism but his generous funding with CBF money of obscure backwoodsmen in the Brazilian Congress has allowed him to see off various investigations and to defeat any attempts to reform Brazilian football, labelled by one prominent critic one of the most reactionary and corrupt corners of Brazilian life.
Brazil have won two World Cups under his leadership but the national team has also become increasingly estranged from its public as he turns it into football’s version of the Harlem Globetrotters, playing meaningless but lucrative friendlies abroad and only bothering to return and play in front of its own fans when it is absolutely obliged – these days essentially World Cup qualifying. It is telling that of all the teams that participated in the last World Cup Brazil is the only side not to have since played a game back at home.
As Brazilian great Tostão wrote in Folha de S.Paulo this weekend Brazil under Teixeira is increasingly a team of CBF (ie Teixeira) and the businessmen and sponsors gathered around him and less and less so of the people.
Teixeira owes his rise to power to nepotism. He met and quickly married the daughter of João Havelange, his predecessor and FIFA president. He gave his first son his father in law’s surname and this loyalty was rewarded when Havelange engineered his takeover of CBF. He has since left his wife.
Teixeira’s new term runs until 2011 but he is expected to try and run for FIFA presidency in 2010. For the good of the world’s game it is to be hoped that in that at least he never succeeds.