News 18th May 2015

CBF admits contract with ISE, but denies it affected team selection

The Brazilian football confederation (CBF) has admitted that it has a commercial contract with Internacional Sports Events (ISE), however has denied newspaper reports which suggested that the contract allowed ISE control the selection of players for friendly football internationals. Brazilian newspaper Estadão released an investigative report which claimed that CBF President, Ricardo Teixeira, had signed a contract with ISE which allowed the CBF’s commercial partners to decide who would play in friendlies, based on the commercial and marketing value of the players. Estadão claimed to have obtained secret contracts which showed that the CBF agreed that the players selected for Brazil must meet certain criteria, established by commercial partners, of marketability and reputation, and that any player selected over another must have the same ‘marketing value’ as the one being replaced.

Estadão alleges that Article 9.1 of the agreement proves that it is designed to ensure that the regular national team participates in friendly internationals. It allegedly reads: ‘The CBF will ensure and guarantee that Team A players who are playing in official competitions participate in any and every match’. Any violation of this Article allegedly results in a lower payment quota. ‘If you happen to play players in any game that are not from Team A, the rate of remuneration under that agreement will be reduced by 50%’, the Article allegedly reads. It reports that the agreed fee per match is R$3.14 million (€0.9 million).

In a response to the report, the CBF issued a statement rebuking what they called the ‘unfounded suspicions of irregularities regarding the contract between the CBF and ISE, part of the Dallah Al-Baraka group’. The CBF stated that it did not ‘sell’ the Brazilian national team, labelling this a ‘ridiculous hypothesis’ based on no evidence and which only served to provide a platform for the author of the piece, Jamil Chad, to seek easy news coverage which would generate scandal. The CBF claims that selection was and will always be determined by the team’s coaches, who had always played the best players available at the time. The CBF does acknowledge that there is a commercial contract in place with the ISE, but one which does not interfere with team selection and was purely set up on a commercial basis, having clearly provided ‘good financial results’ for the Brazilian team.

The commercial contract, which the CBF signed in 2006, allows ISE, Kentaro and Pitch International to arrange friendly internationals for the national team. Estadão published extracts of the contract, which was renewed in 2011. Estadão said that the contracts are proof that the CBF auctioned off national team selection in exchange for millions of dollars in commission paid to agents and officials, as well as companies in tax havens outside the control of the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service.

Estadão also claims to have also obtained documents revealing that the ISE is in fact a company based in the Cayman Islands, with no office or employees, which acts as a front for a Saudi Arabian holding company called Dallah Al-Baraka. Under the agreement, ISE would also control all broadcasting and copyright to the national team’s friendly games, as well as preparatory games for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, with a penalty fee of €0.9 million per violation.

In March 2012, Ricardo Teixeira resigned as chairman of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee and President of the CBF. After years of widespread media scrutiny into bribery and corruption allegations at FIFA, the Swiss Federal Court handed BBC Panorama documents naming Teixeira and former FIFA President Joao Havelange as two officials who were forced to repay bribes as part of an out of court settlement in 2010. In ‘Panorama – FIFA’s Dirty Secrets’ (transcript here), aired in November 2010, reporter Andrew Jennings named the two officials as recipients of bribes from the Swiss ISL sports marketing company, which was repeatedly given the lucrative rights to market World Cup TV contracts by FIFA. According to a statement published in 2013 by Hans-Joachim Eckert, the Chairman of the FIFA Adjudicatory Chamber, on the examination into the bribes, the acceptance of bribe money by Havelange and Teixeira were not punishable under Swiss criminal law at the time, but was deemed to constitute ‘morally and ethically reproachable conduct.’

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