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Brazilian supremo Del Nero finally suspended by FIFA after damning trial evidence

President of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) Marco Polo Del Nero. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
by Keir Radnedge, AIPS Football Commission Chairman

LONDON, December 15, 2017 - Brazilian football confederation president Marco Polo del Nero, at very long last, has finally been provisionally suspended by the ethics chamber of governing body FIFA.

For two years, Del Nero had been allowed to continue at the head of Brazilian football as if nothing had happened despite having been indicted in the FIFAGate corruption investigation by the United States Justice Department.

Finally, it appears that the weight of evidence revealed in the trial in New York of CBF predecessor Jose Maria Marin appears to have shamed Greek ethics judge Vassilios Skouris into taking belated action.

Del Nero will almost certainly not dare fly to Zurich for hearings or interviews. He has not ventured beyond Brazil ever since flying back early from Zurich in May 2015 for fear of US-demanded detention by the Swiss authorities, like Marin.

A clause in the Brazilian constitution rules that Brazilian citizens cannot be extradited from within the country.

Election

Del Nero was elected as CBF president formally in April 2015 in succession to Marin, as had been agreed before the World Cup finals in 2014. Both men had been close allies of predecessor Ricardo Teixeira who is also wanted in the US and has retreated, like Del Nero, to the safety of Brazil.

The refusal of Del Nero to travel abroad meant he could not fulfil his responsibilities to FIFA, with whom he had been an executive committee member, and South American body CONMEBOL. This led, in turn, to his reluctant initial withdrawal in December 2015 from both bodies and, temporarily, from the CBF presidency. After a matter of weeks, he regained the presidency.

Romario, the 1994 World Cup winner turned senator and persistent critic of successive CBF presidents, has described Del Nero as “the great plague of our football”.

In December 2015, Del Nero appeared before Romario’s commission of inquiry into the CBF but gave a string of evasive answers.

Over the past five Del Nero’s name has come up repeatedly in evidence to the FIFAGate trial in New York over allegations of his involvement in sharing multi-million-dollar bribes with Marin and Teixeira as sweeteners for TV rights deals to the Copa America, Copa Libertadores and Copa do Brasil.

In August 2016, on the eve of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Del Nero staged a photo opportunity in presenting a No10 Brazilian shirt to Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president.

CBF officials said the meeting between the two men had helped shore up Del Nero’s position while FIFA sources described it as nothing more than a normal courtesy call.

Del Nero invited Infantino to attend Brazil’s opening Olympic match in Brasilia against South Africa but the FIFA president excused himself on the basis of other commitments.

FIFA statement:

The chairperson of the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee has provisionally banned the President of the Brazilian FA (CBF), Mr Marco Polo Del Nero, for a duration of 90 days.

The duration of the ban may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 45 days. During this time, Mr Polo Del Nero is banned from all football activities at both national and international level. The ban comes into force immediately.

The decision was taken upon the request from the chairperson of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee carrying out the formal investigation proceedings into Mr Polo Del Nero, pursuant to art. 83 par. 1 and art. 84 par. 2 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

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