RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has resigned his post on FIFA’s Executive Committee after months of pressure to stand down, the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) said on Thursday.
“Mr. Marco Polo Del Nero asked to leave the FIFA Executive Committee as Conmebol’s representative and he recommended Mr. Fernando Sarney as his replacement and that was unanimously approved,” Conmebol said in a statement issued after regional soccer bosses met in Brazil.
Sarney is the son of a former Brazilian president and one of the CBF’s four vice-presidents.
Del Nero replaced Jose Maria Marin as head of the CBF in April and will continue in that role.
He has not attended any FIFA Executive Committee meetings since May, when police raided a Swiss hotel and arrested nine soccer officials and five sports media and promotions executives in a landmark corruption investigation into the sport’s world governing body.
Marin was one of those detained and Del Nero returned to Brazil immediately after the raid and has not left his homeland since. According to Brazil’s constitution, Brazilian citizens cannot be extradited from Brazil to another country.
Del Nero has not been cited as under investigation in the probe, but has been criticized for staying put in Brazil. He has missed several FIFA meetings and Brazil away matches in the six months since the initial arrests.
He did not accompany the national side to the Copa America in Chile or to World Cup qualifiers in Santiago and Buenos Aires
Senior figures inside and outside the game in Brazil have called on Del Nero to resign not just from FIFA’s Executive Committee but also from the CBF.
The turmoil inside the CBF is affecting all areas of the game, former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Ronaldo told Reuters on Wednesday.
“Results don’t come in a tumultuous atmosphere,” Ronaldo said, pointing out Brazil’s elimination at the quarter-final stage of the Copa America and their inconsistent start to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. “I think he (Del Nero) should leave.”
Marin was extradited from Switzerland to the United States earlier this month.
Del Nero said he would continue as CBF boss as well as on Conmebol’s Executive Committee. He said he resigned from his role at FIFA in order to “give my full attention to Brazilian soccer debates and themes,” according to a brief statement posted on the CBF website.
In addition to clarifying Del Nero’s position, the Conmebol meeting in Rio de Janeiro approved plans for a regional ranking system that will be used to decide seeds for future Libertadores Cup tournaments.
The organization also agreed to set up a Female Football Commission to develop and publicize the women’s game as well as a special technical commission that will plan and implement courses for coaching badges in South America.
Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Frances Kerry