By Samindra Kunti in Moscow
June 28 – Brazil progressed to the knockout phase of the World Cup following a routine 2-0 win against Serbia on Wednesday, but the Brazilian Football Confederation, the CBF, remains an isolated body.
Before kick-off Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, was seen alongside CBF vice-president Fernando Sarney and Serbian FA president Salivasa Kokeza in the stands of the Spartak Stadium, breaking protocol by not sitting next to CBF president Colonel Antonio Nunes. The Colonel stood a few metres away, highlighting what appears to be his alienation in football politics.
Nunes voted for Morocco as host candidate to stage the 2026 World Cup, breaking Conmebol’s pledge to unanimously back the tri-nation bid from North America, United 2026. This triggered a wave of criticism from South America, even though the vote was a ‘free’ one.
The Brazilian CBF president had been reminded by his South American colleagues to put his weight behind United 2026 minutes before the vote, but the Colonel ignored that advice and duly voted for the Africans. Nunes claimed he didn’t know the vote had been open, but ultimately admitted he had preferred Morocco, because the country hadn’t stage a World Cup before.
In St Petersburg, the CBF ran into more trouble. On the eve of Brazil’s second group game with Costa Rica as one of Nunes’ assistants Gilberto Barbosa hit a fan with a glass on the head during a dinner at the Stroganoff Steak House. The fan had spotted the Colonel and insulted the football administrator before shoving him. Barbosa didn’t respond kindly, but was sent back home to Brazil following the incident. The restaurant had to close early following the altercation.
Nunes’ term as CBF president ends next year. He will be succeeded by Rogerio Caboclo who won the CBF elections unopposed earlier this year. The Colonel became interim-president when Marco Polo del Nero took a four-month leave of absence under pressure from corruption allegations in FIFAGate. The Colonel then assumed the role on a permanent basis as FIFA banned del Nero from football for life following an investigation of the governing body’s ethics committee.
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