HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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13 March 2012

Texeria Fora! E Daí?

Yesterday, an axe fell on the head of the serpent. Ricardo Texeira, the president of the Brazilian Footbal Confederation (CBF) for 26 years resigned less than a week after he was given a unanimous vote of confidence by Brazil’s 27 state football federations. Texeira came to power by virtue of his marriage to the daughter of João Havelange, president of FIFA from 1974-1998. The old man was probably controlling most of the big decisions of little Ricky but then he too came up against corruption charges and was forced to resign his position at the IOC a few months ago. Two of the biggest names in Brazilian sport have fallen in the past three months. What this means is unclear as João H. is still held in absurdly high esteem and R.T. is bound for the land of fugitive Latin American criminals, Florida.

We have Andrew Jennings to thank for much of these developments. Andrew has been tireless in his investigations into FIFA corruption. Once he started pulling on some threads it wasn’t long before he found the Havelange-Texeira clan knee-deep in merda. We can also point to petitions circulated by the Associação Nacional dos Torcedores e Torcedoras (ANT, www.torcedores.org.br), which called for the head of Texeira throughout 2010, collecting thousands of signatures. The combination of rigorous investigative journalism and civil society activism is powerful – let’s hope that the documents being released by the Comitês Populares in Brazil will have similar effects on the abusive and opaque reign of Carlos Nuzman at Rio 2016 and the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

The loss of Texeira will not, unfortunately, change much about the fundamental structure of the World Cup. His daughter, Joanna Havelange, is the Secretary General of Brazil 2014. Her qualifications for this job were the same as her dad's, none. The rest of the executives for the World Cup are the same people that helped stuff the workings of the CBF inside a black box for so many years. It is important to remember that just last week Sickly Ricky received a unanimous vote of confidence. This allowed him the chance to maintain the power structure through the next CBF election. The acting president of the CBF is 78 years old and recently stole a winner’s medal at a juniors' tournament. The Brazil 2014 Local Organizing Committee has no president yet, but Ronaldo Fenômeno will likely step into that role as a figurehead.

This is a chance to start pulling on even more threads, unraveling the Indonesian-stitched fabric of Brazil’s canary-yellow shirt. I do not have much confidence that the Brazilian media will do this as they are focused on the serpent’s head lying on the ground as the rest of the snake slithers back into its hole to shake off the hangover. This saga has long felt like something out of The Open Veins of Latin America: occasionally a coronel gets shot in his office, but the power structure remains the same. As the Minister of Sport showed the other day, even when the Communists get into positions of power, nothing much changes. 

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