Former Brazil star Romario: 'FIFA is corrupt'

Romario, now a representative in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, has lashed out at FIFA.
Marcelo Fonseca/Getty Images

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazilian congressman and former soccer great Romario has launched another attack against FIFA, calling President Sepp Blatter ''a thief'' and secretary general Jerome Valcke ''a blackmailer.''

The comments from the former Brazil striker came at congressional hearing promoted by a tourism and sports commission Tuesday.

He continued his attack against Valcke with a post published on his website on Wednesday, saying the FIFA official isn't the ''best person to do business'' with Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Romario also criticized the Brazilian soccer confederation, saying it is ''corrupt.''

It was some of the harsher words yet used by Romario, who has been loudly criticizing FIFA and local soccer officials since he took office in 2010.

''We can't expect anything from FIFA, where we have a blackmailer called Valcke and a thief called Blatter,'' Romario said while replying to a comment from a colleague who said FIFA should do more to make sure the World Cup will leave a legacy for Brazil. ''They really don't represent world football, much less Brazilian football.''

In his post, Romario said it's his role as a legislator to protect Brazil's interests and make sure the people know more about the FIFA representative negotiating World Cup deals in Brazil.

''Brazilian authorities shouldn't trust (Valcke) when signing any deal related to the World Cup,'' Romario said. ''It is with lack of trust that I see his presence in Brazil negotiating with the money of the Brazilian people. Rest assured that I'll always keep an eye on what is being spent on the World Cup with public funds.''

Romario said he published the post in response to Valcke's claim that the former Brazilian great has many times overstepped the boundaries of decency in his attacks. In an interview with Rio's Extra on Sunday, Valcke said that Romario is ''anti-FIFA, anti-Jerome Valcke, anti-everything.''

He said Romario talks about him and President Blatter as the ''worst people in the world,'' and doesn't expect to have a dialogue with the former striker in the run up to the World Cup.

''FIFA is open to talk to anyone, but I'm not going to go to Romario to ask him to speak with me,'' Valcke was quoted as saying. ''He has said so many negative things about me, I don't see why I would go see him.''

FIFA said it will not comment about Romario's remarks.

For a long time Romario has been outspoken against FIFA's influence in Brazil and the costs of hosting the World Cup. He has focused his complaints on the secretary general.

''I wouldn't trust (Valcke) if I had to give him 10 reals (about $5) to buy me bread and milk,'' Romario said in his post.

Romario said his mistrust was in part linked to FIFA's past problems with the now-defunct market agency ISL and the controversial replacement of the Mastercard sponsorship by Visa, a move spearheaded by Valcke.

Tuesday's congressional hearing was aimed at discussing the financial situation of Brazilian clubs, and Romario took the opportunity to again criticize the local soccer federation, known as the CBF.

''CBF is a corrupt entity,'' said the 47-year-old Romario, who won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil.

Romario has led the calls for a congressional investigation into the Brazilian federation after president Jose Maria Marin took over from Ricardo Teixeira, who quit last year citing medical reasons amid widespread allegations of corruption and irregularities in his administration.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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