Rio de Janerio, May 30 (IANS) The president of Brazil’s football confederation (CBF) Marco Polo Del Nero said he was “angry and perplexed” by the arrest of his predecessor Jose Maria Marin on corruption charges, reported media on Saturday.
Del Nero addressed a packed press conference just hours after arriving in Rio from Zurich, where he was due to vote in the presidential election for world football’s governing body FIFA, Xinhua news agency reported.
The 74-year-old, who served under Marin as the CBF’s vice president from June 2012 until April this year, denied any knowledge of irregularities within the organisation.
“How would I have known? I didn’t sign any contract during President Marin’s administration,” Del Nero said.
As Brazilian football’s top official, Del Nero is also an executive committee member of FIFA and South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL.
He said he returned to Brazil to provide “any necessary explanations” to local authorities, adding he had “no reason” to resign.
“Faced with this difficult time, I decided to return so that I can set things right,” Del Nero said.
Marin is currently the CBF’s vice-president and a member of the FIFA organising committee for next year’s Rio Olympics.
He was one of seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on Wednesday for alleged fraud, racketeering and money laundering over more than two decades.
Swiss police carried out the operation at the request of the US justice department, which named 14 people in its indictment.
When asked if he would show solidarity towards his former boss, Del Nero, who was not named in the indictment, said: “It’s sad. We support other human beings, friends.”
He added: “I am angry and perplexed. But I have to carry out my job and that is to act in the best interests of the CBF.”
Brazilian authorities have acted swiftly to launch their own probe into allegations of widespread graft in the local football industry.
On Thursday police began an investigation into alleged money laundering and tax evasion involving the country’s top football officials.
Former national team striker and current federal senator Romario on Friday announced a congressional inquiry into the claims.
Brazilian investigators have so far focused on allegations that CBF officials accepted kickbacks for a national team sponsorship deal and the Copa do Brasil marketing rights.
Key to the investigation is former Brazilian hot dog cart owner Jose Hawilla, the founder of sports marketing company Traffic Group.
Hawilla has already pleaded guilty to US corruption charges and is now a cooperating witness in the case.