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Are Barcelona and Fifa involved in corrupt practice within football?
The title of this article has a question mark at the end, and that should be noted. It is (self-evidently) published on a blog, that is run by half a dozen football enthusiasts. We don’t have investigative journalists and reporters across the world digging through dustbins, intercepting phone calls, and doing all the things that those of us in Britain associate with parts of our national press.
In short it is important to realise where the information comes from – it comes from the sources that we cite through the article via the links. We are not saying that anyone is involved in anything underhand – what we are doing is saying this is what is being said elsewhere, and is available in print around the world.
We can’t investigate because we don’t have the resources – but it would be nice if someone somewhere would say either, “yes there is a case to answer” or “no, you are wrong, and you are wrong because….” Answering the legitimate concerns of football fans is surely what referee associations, national associations, and international associations should be doing.
So we hope that as a result of this article, which we stress merely repeats what has been said elsewhere, will help us all understand what is going on. As football fans who pay our hard earned cash to go to matches and subscribe to TV channels that show games, we do have a right to know if anything underhand has gone on.
We would like someone to answer these points.
Thus, to begin…
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This month, scandal-plagued FIFA Executive Committee member Ricardo Teixeira finally resigned his post with FIFA and stepped down, having come under increasing pressure over a string of corruption and money laundering scandals going back over a decade. According to some reports it ended thus…
“the crippling blow that caused Mr Teixeira’s resignation, involved his 11 year-old daughter and a strange deposit of more than £1m which was put into her account by the president of FC Barcelona Sandro Rosell…”
This allegation (which is particularly significant due to the timing of the alleged payment), has been widely shunned by the English media, and ironically has only been reported in an article by Antony Katrinakis of the Sun.
However, this new piece of information, if accurate, proves to make quite an interesting addition to the timeline of events involving Arsenal, Barcelona, the 2011 Champions League, and Swiss referee Massimo Busacca.
It would then run like this…
8 March, 2011:
Barcelona eliminates Arsenal from the Champions League due to the controversial sending off of Robin Van Persie by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca
28 May, 2011:
Barcelona defeats Manchester United to win the UEFA Champions League.
June, 2011: (according to Brazilian news reports)
Barcelona President Sandro Rosell pays £1.4m to a bank account in the name of FIFA Executive Committee member Ricardo Teixeira’s 11 year old daughter, Antonio Wigand Teixeira. The source of the money and the reason for the payment is not known.
13 July, 2011:
It is announced that Massimo Busacca, the Swiss official who wrongly sent off Robin van Persie during Arsenal’s 2nd leg CL defeat against Barcelona, has been appointed as FIFA’s head of referees. According to FIFA President Sepp Blatter:
“Massimo Busacca’s experience will prove to be particularly useful to our mission and to our efforts to continue the groundwork we have put in place with the confederations and member associations in this particularly important area.”
So, the plot thickens, not least because Fifa is not explaining why a ref who made such a bizarre decision, is promoted. Do we, as fans, not deserve to know?
In light of the emergence of this new and critical allegation, why don’t we take a closer look at some of FIFA’s “confederations and member associations,” and particularly how Barcelona’s Sandro Rosell might fit into this larger FIFA “family”?
Personally, I like this take from an article published on the “leaders in football” website:
“Funny word: Family.
Of course there is the Mafia connotation but, in football terms, when Sepp Blatter talks about ‘family’ the FIFA President means all those involved in the world game, in every country, in every continent. Players, officials and fans; even fans of the armchair variety.
Then there is another sort of family: the Brazilian football family. That means the Havelange family. Or rather, the Teixeira family.
Joao Havelange is now 95…he became president of the Brazilian sports confederation, then president of FIFA for 24 years and a member of the International Olympic Committee until last December (when he quit over the ISL scandal).
Havelange had one child, a daughter, Lucia. She married a rising share dealer and sports administrator, Ricardo Teixeira. In due course Teixeira – hardly through coincidence – rose to become President of the Brazilian Football Confederation and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee….
Along the way Teixeira and Lucia separated. His second partner, 30 years his junior, is Ana Carolina Wigand. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Antonia.
Last summer, according to the Folha newspaper of Sao Paulo, Antonia allegedly received a bank transfer of more than $1m [from Barcelona President Sandro Rosell, according to other sources cited above]. The source of the money and the reason for the payment is not known.
What is known is that Sandro Rosell and Teixeira were close friends and business associates at the turn of millennium. Rosell was a witness to Teixeira’s second wedding [and is also an alleged business partner of Teixeira’s wife]…
Keeping it in the family, Teixeira has a brother, Guilherme. He was investigated and interviewed, as was Teixeira, over allegations of money-laundering illicit payments from ISL, the former marketing partner of FIFA. That investigation, it appears, is going nowhere. After all, there is no potentially incriminating evidence: the ISL court papers remain closed
Teixeira also has an uncle, Marco Antonio. For the best part of 20 years he was Secretary General of the Brazilian federation and one of Teixeira’s closest aides. Then, two weeks ago, Teixeira sacked him. The pain of the lay-off was doubtless cushioned by a reported $900,000 pay-off from the CBF coffers.”
From here, let’s take a closer look at the specific allegations that have emerged in the media surrounding the reported business dealings between Mr. Teixeira and Mr. Rosell.
According to allegations in an article by keirradnedge.com:
“Teixeira and Rosell have both been named this week with reference to allegations of fraud concerning a friendly match between Brazil and Portugal in Brasilia in November 2008. The Folha newspaper of Sao Paulo has claimed serious over-charging to the regional governor who had, in effect, underwritten the costs of the game which added up eventually to around £3.3m.
VSV, A subsidiary of the Ailanto marketing company which organised the match, had its business registered at the address of a farm owned by Teixeria some 50 miles outside Rio de Janeiro. Business was conducted on its behalf by Vanessa Precht, then an aide of Rosell.”
In a separate article, the Economist (hardly a scandal-mongering weekly) claims to have a copy of one of the actual contracts linked to this deal, which:
“dated March 2009 commits Vanessa Precht, a Brazilian who formerly worked at Barcelona FC and who was Mr Rosell’s partner in Ailanto, to leasing a farm in the state of Rio de Janeiro from Mr Teixeira for 10,000 reais a month for five years…
Two Brazilian congressmen have called for an investigation to establish whether the deal was a way for Ms Precht to return to Mr Teixeira some of the money Ailanto earned from the Brazil-Portugal friendly.”
These allegations that are reported to have been made by the Brazilian congressmen are highly significant. And the reason for that is because, if the allegations are correct, (and of course we don’t know if this is true or not) and this deal was, in fact, a means for Mr. Rosell, through Ailanto, to return excessive public funds paid for the Brazil-Portugal friendly to Mr. Teixeira, this would constitute money laundering by both Mr. Rosell and Mr. Teixeira.
Returning to the article by keirradnedge.com:
“The latest questions over Teixeira’s affairs and credibility have been raised by a long-time critic, the investigative sports journalist Juca Kfouri. He has claimed that in June last year Rosell made a payment of £1.4m to Teixeira’s daughter, Antonio Wigand Teixeira.
Folha is linking this to a report that Teixeira, last year, made changes to the structure of his main company, RLJ Equity, ‘in an attempt to distance or hide links to the ISL case.’
Simultaneously, lawyers representing Teixeira have applied in a court in Rio to have a stalled investigation into allegations of money-laundering halted permanently.
The investigation, by the fraud squad at the behest of the public prosecutor, concerns allegations over the importation into Brazil of proceeds from a Liechtenstein company linked with the long-bankrupt FIFA marketing partner ISL.”
As continued in a separate article, Sandro Rosell “ was director of the Spanish operation of ISL from 1993 until 1996 when he switched to Nike. In 1999 he moved to Rio as the company’s sports marketing manager in Latin America. His major success was extending and amplifying the company’s $160m, all-embracing sponsorship contract with Teixeira’s CBF.”
This deal was the subject of a congressional inquiry which generated 13 charges but was later dropped.
“Rosell quit Nike and returned to Spain in 2002. He became a vice-president of Barcelona in 2003 then fell out with president Joan Laporta whom he succeeded in 2010.
One specific Brazilian deal about which Rosell may have particular knowledge concerns allegations of money-laundering in the purchase and sale of a Cessna aircraft.
Newspapers in Sao Paulo claim that, between 2007 and 2009, the domestic airline agent TAM proposed to sell a new plane to Teixeira and take a Cessna, purportedly owned by one of his own companies, in part-exchange. TAM was then negotiating a sponsorship with the CBF and it has been alleged that, in fact, it already owned the Cessna.
Investigators say the deal, which also included a significant sale of shares, was negotiated with a network of companies which involved both Teixeira and Rosell as well as a controversial businessman and engineer, Claudio Honigman.
Attempts to find – let alone interview – Honigman have proved fruitless. He fled Brazil in 2010. His house and goods have been seized against an alimony claim by his ex-wife.”
The Economist also claims to have copies of what appear to be contracts from the above deals, which:
“were signed separately in July 2008 by Mr Teixeira and Mr Rosell with Cláudio Honigman, a financier who is a partner of Mr Rosell’s in a different Brazilian sports-marketing company, Brasil 100% Marketing. Mr Honigman undertook to pay each man 22.5m reais to buy back options on 10% of the shares in Alpes Corretora, a São Paulo brokerage, which the contracts state he had previously sold to them…”
In conclusion, the above allegations about Mr Rosell and Mr. Teixeira paint only a partial picture of the true nature of whatever business dealings may or may not have been ongoing between the two men over the last decade.
However, the picture that is nonetheless emerging certainly raises a lot of questions about FC Barcelona’s possible influence with FIFA and other European footballing bodies, as well as the moral and legal basis for any such influence.
It also raises questions about to what extent Arsenal may have been forced to pay the price….
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