Romario and Maradona unite 'to take fight to CONMEBOL'

Romario and MaradonaBy Andrew Warshaw
September 5 - Two of South America's biggest footballing icons, Diego Maradona and Romario, have joined forces to denounce the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) for not doing enough to distribute its funds.

Former Argentine captain Maradona and ex-Brazil striker Romario, now a member of his country's congress, have gone on the offensive, not for the first time, to denounce those who run Conmebol.

"We have seen, with astonishment and great sadness, that football is for just a few," Maradona told reporters after a meeting of South American clubs in Sao Paulo.

"It doesn't belong to the clubs, the supporters or the players. So we are going to form a commission to unmask these people who do so much harm to the game.

"It's very serious, but thanks to all of us who are not afraid of those people ... we are here so that we can have a more transparent football."

Earlier this week, Insideworldfootball reported that Ricardo Teixeira, one of the most shady characters in South American football, had moved his residency to Andorra. Teixeira has long been suspected of financial wrongdoing and resigned his position as head of the Brazilian FA and FIFA's executive committee in March of last year, citing ill health. He was one of football's most controversial powerbrokers and was linked to a string of corruption scandals including receiving kickbacks from FIFA's former marketing partner ISL.

Nicolas Leoz, another former FIFA executive committee member, quit as CONMEBOL president at the age of 84 in April, also citing ill-health. He was replaced by his vice-president, Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.

One week later, a report by FIFA's ethics commission cited both Teixeira and Leoz as being among those who had taken illicit payments in the infamous ISL case, along with former FIFA president Joao Havelange.

The behaviour of both Havelange and Teixeira in their dealings with ISL was lambasted as being "morally and ethically reproachable".

Romario described CONMEBOL as worse than the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), which he has frequently criticised in the past.

"The situation is really much more serious than we imagined," he said. "What has been presented here is one of the biggest disgraces that I have seen. I couldn't imagine that there was an institution which ... did so much harm to the sport."

"We have to get more people together. The clubs, the ex-players and the current players have to take the fight to CONMEBOL," said Romario. "It's a movement for transparency and dignity in football.

"With this commission that we are going to form, we are going to see what has happened to all this money."

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