THE vast reptile house that men call FIFA had its sunny outing in Rio last week, with several of its most repugnant denizens on view. There was the ever shameless and enduring Sepp Blatter of course, hot on the heels of his affectionate meeting with the murderous Robert Mugabe in Harare. Discussing what?
And there were those two equally and malevolently enduring South American vipers, anti-Semitic Julio Grondona of Argentina and equally toxic Brazilian, Ricardo Teixeira, once, all too appositely, the son-in-law of Joao Havelange, the man with whom the rot set in back in Frankfurt in 1974 when, with the help of African votes and money which came from the coffers of the Brazilian Confederation – see David Yallop’s horrific and essential treatise, How They Stole The Game – he had ejected Stanley Rous.
Havelange, as we know, stayed unchallenged in office for the next 24 years. Teixeira, still top man of the Brazilian Confederation and Grondona, the long reigning Czar of Argentine football, are as immoveable as Havelange. And both are openly and bitterly anti English, especially when it comes to English football.
Texeira has recently abused English football making somewhat ludicrous use of the term “pirates”, while his everlasting feud with Pele, who once opposed him in a television deal, continues. This time, however, he didn’t get his malevolent way, trying in vain to ban Pele from the World Cup draw top table, only and properly to be overruled.
Thinking of these two ghastly figures, Teixeira and Grondona, it is tempting to recall the old American adage, “South America is the continent of tomorrow, but tomorrow is always a fiesta.” There’s no doubt that in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay decent men abound, yet all too often it is the miscreants who get to the top and implacably stay there.
Yallop, in that crucial and alarming book, gives chapter and verse on Teixeira’s rise from poverty and financial ruin to untold and limitless riches. It was Marcio Braga, for 20 years the upright President of the famous Flamengo club, who told him, “Football in Brazil is in the hands of the Mafia and it is the very worst kind you can imagine. Because the Mafia in Italy or anywhere else is not against the ordinary people. Here, they are against the people, against the people’s interests.”
Braga went on to explain how Texeira had to sell his failed investment business, Minas Investmentos, for a single dollar. Failed lawyer, bankrupt businessman, Texeira had his father-in-law to make him a multi millionaire. Gone were the meagre days when he owned a farm in Pirati with a few cows. “With this little farm,” said Braga, “he has made a fortune reputed to be in excess of $100 million. In all of this he is (was) protected by Havelange.”