June 17, 2015 / 8:24 PM / 4 years ago

Former Brazilian soccer chief denies taking bribe to back Qatar bid

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said he got “absolutely nothing” in return for his vote to award Qatar the rights to host the 2022 World Cup and described suggestions he was involved in impropriety as “preposterous.”

“I got nothing, absolutely nothing,” Ricardo Teixeira said in response to allegations published in a Brazilian newspaper on Tuesday that he had received a gold watch from a Qatari emir in return for his vote.

“The Emir didn’t give me a watch, he didn’t give me an ice lolly, he didn’t give me anything,” Teixeira said in an interview posted on Brazilian web site Terra on Wednesday. “This Qatar business is totally preposterous.”

Teixeira was the all-powerful head of the CBF between 1989 and 2012 when he resigned citing ill health. He was frequently accused of corrupt dealings but although Brazilian authorities told Reuters he was being investigated for money laundering and tax evasion no charges have been  brought.

Teixeira did not address the possibility of charges in the Terra interview but did acknowledge meeting with representatives of several countries bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and said those visits were entirely normal and above board.

He acknowledged voting for Qatar for 2022 as part of an agreement hammered out before the vote.

Teixeira said the South Americans decided to vote in a bloc and agreed with Qatar and some Asian states that they would vote for the joint Spain-Portugal bid in 2018 in return for South American support for Qatar in 2022.

Although Russia beat out the Iberians to host the 2018 World Cup, the South Americans kept their side of the bargain and voted for Qatar for 2022.

“That was the deal,” Teixeira said. “And it was only that. The story is not a millimeter different.”

His comments come as his successor Jose Maria Marin sits in a Swiss jail awaiting possible extradition to the United States.

Marin was one of seven soccer officials arrested in Zurich late last month by Swiss police on behalf of U.S. authorities, who have been investigating corrupt dealings involving FIFA officials and their associates. Altogether, nine current or former soccer officials and five business executives have been indicted on corruption charges.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Martin Howell

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