by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 9th 2014)
Cafu is a legend of Brasilian football. He has won two World Cups and represented the Seleção Brasileiro 142 times. If he wants to console Brasilian players after the humiliating defeat to Germany, then good for him. He should have been welcomed. Cafu tasted defeat in the final in 1998 – a result that sparked an investigation of what had gone wrong. Due to that bitter experience he empathised with his countrymen.
Instead a caring gesture from a footballing hero was rebuffed by an utterly classless embarrassment to Brasilian football. The current President of Brasilʼs Football Federation José Maria Marin is an utter disgrace to a proud football nation. Cafu was expelled from the dressing room by Marin, who claimed that they did not want strangers in there.
Cafu is and always will be a legend of Brasilian football. Marin is a failed politician, apologist for a notorious torturer Sergio Fleury (pronounced Flay-u-ree) deputy to the corrupt previous President of the Brasilian Football Federation Ricardo Texeira and so venal that he thought nothing of pocketing a medal he was supposed to be presenting to a youth team player.
A Pitiful Excuse
While trying to carve out a career in politics, Marin demanded appreciation of Fleury and made a now notorious speech calling for action against journalists. Shortly afterwards Fleury went after respected journalist Vladimir Herzog, who died in police custody. A staged photograph of Herzog hanging in a cell with his feet on the ground convinced nobody that Herzog had committed suicide.
Years later, the dictatorship consigned to history, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demanded answers on Herzogʼs death. Its judgement has not been enforced. Herzogʼs family want Marinʼs role investigated and prosecuted if appropriate.
Unfit and Improper
Ricardo Texeiraʼs corruption eventually led to Marinʼs opportunity to lead the Federation. However, last yearʼs Confederationsʼ Cup revealed a huge rift between Marin and the countryʼs President Dilma Rousseff – a victim of torture by Marinʼs hero Fleury. So is Marin a fit and proper person to be running Brasilian football?
“I wouldnʼt have thought so, no” the BBCʼs South American football correspondent – expert – Tim Vickery told us exclusively last year. “It certainly seems the case that Dilma Rousseff doesnʼt think so. She doesnʼt want anything to do with him and itʼs not just that one incident”.
Rousseff was tortured in São Paulo when a 22 year-old student during the military dictatorship. She has never forgiven Marin and his ilk, so much so that she gave the Confederationsʼ Cup Final a miss last year rather than tolerate Marinʼs company.
“He was a political creature of the far right”, Vickery explains. “The party that he first joined was a party set up by Plínio Salgado. Now Plínio Salgado was the kind of Mussolini of Brasilian politics. He was fascist, tried to set himself up as a democrat briefly and then when the military coup came, he decided the military coup was a great thing, so I think Marinʼs democratic credentials are seriously compromised and no I wouldnʼt have thought that heʼs an adequate person to be in charge of Brasilian football at this moment”.
There can be little doubt that Marin has tarnished the reputation of his country and its football. “Weʼre talking about the fellow whoʼs the President of the Brasilian FA and the President of the Local Organising Committee, although he seems to be increasingly ostracised, both from FIFA and from the Brasilian government”, Vickery says. “The fact that these skeletons havenʼt properly been dealt with is clearly a black mark against Brasil – no doubt about it”.
Marin is an embarrassment both to football and even more so to his country. He is a relic of a thoroughly discredited past. Last year the protests could not be hidden. FIFA was targeted and so was the government. The Brasilian Football Federation did not escape criticism. The extraordinary former striker turned politician Romário de Souza Faria highlighted the excesses of the previous President, Ricardo Texeira, before rounding on Marin, describing him as even worse than Texeira.
The signs of a deep malaise were present long before Brasil were taken apart by Germany. “Our football has been deteriorating for years, being sucked dry by talentless moguls” Romário said after the thrashing. “Dilma will have to present the cup to another team. They will take the cup and we will be left with our overpriced stadiums and no material legacy. This is the cup of shame”.
Last yearʼs protesters are young. This year the authorities were not taken by surprise. The demonstrations occurred, but they were kept out of sight and out of mind, but last yearʼs points remain. The spending was and remains excessive – corruption has yet to be tackled and nor has police brutality. Marin remains in charge a relic of the past Brasil wants to forget – a man utterly unsuited to run the national sport. In a world where the demonstrators speak for the future of Brasil, Marin represents everything wrong with the country.
“Thatʼs why theyʼre protesting”, Vickery says. “Theyʼre protesting about the ineptitude with which public money has been spent and the oligarchy that control Brasilian football are obviously a key part of that, so thatʼs something theyʼre protesting about. I think they have every validity”.
Marin steps down after this tournament. Romário wants a Parliamentary inquiry into the Brasilian Football Federation. Marin will be replaced by FIFA Executive Committee member Marco Polo del Nero. That Romário believes both del Nero and Marin caused the crisis and ought to be in jail for it does not augur well for the future.