19 April 2011

The way things work

Way back in March, the former governor of Rio de Janeiro state who was convicted of a series of criminal charges yet was allowed to assume his position as a federal deputy after the October 2010 elections and whose  base is a massive and flexible horde of evangelicals began what is known as a CPI (comissão parlamentar de inquérito) to look into the dealings of the CBF (Brazilian Football Federation) and its notoriously slippery president Ricardo Teixeira.

For those who don't read EVERY post or follow the developments 2014 World Cup with the maniacal passion of a star-crossed lover, this CPI process smacked of the bizarre, but gave hope that there could be a peek inside the black box. A question for my Brazilian readers: how is it that the former governor, convicted on charges of forming a criminal gang as recently as August 2010 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison, begin to think about processing Teixiera? Neither here nor there I reckon, but it might take one to know one. As a reminder, Teixeira is the former son in law of the former FIFA president and is not only the president of the CBF but of the WC organizing committee.

Garotinho was able to get 183 of the required 171 deputies to sign onto his CPI but did not publish their names because he knew that Ricardo Teixeira was in Brasilia making the rounds in Brasilia. But, Garotinho had published partial lists along the way, so it wasn't very hard to find out the names of at least some of them. Only needing to eliminate 13 names from that list was what Teixeira was in Brasilia to do. The result:

On April 14, OGlobo reported a very, very small celebratory piece on the inside of the front page with a picture of a Brazilian National Team shirt and a copy of a letter from the CBF. The text: The creation of the CPI in the Deputies' chamber to investigate the CBF didn't take off. Dozens of deputies removed their signatures, making the iniciative more difficult. They received an official shirt of the national team accompanied by a letter from the CBF president that said: Receive, illustrious deputy, my thanks for the hospitality with which I was received during my visit to Brasilia on the 29th of March. 

Contrary to the celebratory announcement in OGlobo and The Folha de São Paulo, the CPI hasn't completely died. Many deputies did take their names off the CPI list, but some others have apparently signed on. On Garotinho's blog, he insists that the CPI is still going on and he has decided to publish a list of all the deputies who have signed. Let's hope that this thing has not lost its legs.

This is not the first CPI that Texiera and the CBF have confronted. Following the 1994 World Cup there was an investigation into the two plane loads of "stuff" that the World Cup winners brought back from the United States. When the customs agents had the nerve to suggest that Teixeira and the Brazilian Team pay import taxes, they refused, saying that they would not participate in a public parade if they were made to obey the law. A CPI was opened into that case, but nothing came of it.

Following the strange events of the 1998 World Cup when Ronaldo Fenomeno was mysteriously ill before the final and then Brazil had their arses handed to them by Zidane's head, a CPI was opened into the relationships and contracts between the CBF, Nike, and Traffic. Some day I'll hve time to read through all of this stuff, but then again, it doesn't seem to do much good as the more one knows the angrier one gets.

In sum, in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup convicted criminals are pursuing suspected criminals who spend their days hopping back and forth between cities and offices, distributing hundred dollar soccer jerseys as a way of escaping legal proceedings.

As if to add insult to injury, in the conclusion to a paper comparing the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, Luiz Martins de Melo from the Economics Institute at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, after pages of critical insight justifies the estimated R$30 billion public expenditure in the World Cup by suggesting: "Perhaps, given the cultural importance of football for Brazilians, the most outstanding result of hosting the World Cup will be to overcome the trauma of the 1950 World Cup defeat to Uruguay. This intangible outcome is priceless."  And if they don't win? The intangible outcome will be what?

This is the way things work. I'm getting used to it. You?

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