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   July 1, 2002 | 1400 IST


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Brazilian game in chaos despite win

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Before the World Cup some commentators in Brazil argued that a quick exit for the team could help end the chaos that has engulfed the sport in the South American country.

They hoped that a disastrous performance could help topple soccer directors who have clung to their posts despite being accused by a Congressional investigation last year of a corrupt and negligent administration.

Now Brazil have won their fifth title, many fear that, paradoxically, success could strengthen the position of the directors and slow down attempts to reform the game.

The national team itself is left facing an uncertain future as a footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters.

The world champions may have to wait up to two years for their next competitive game depending on when the next Copa America -- originally planned for 2003 but likely to go ahead one year later -- is held.

In the meantime, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) is likely to line up a string of lucrative -- and meaningless -- friendlies.

In the past, the CBF has used the prestige of its team to arrange endless friendly matches in exchange for a fat appearance fee estimated at about $500,000.

Commentators have often complained that financial, rather than technical, criteria are used to determine who and where Brazil play.

In the last few years Brazil's opponents in friendly matches have included Australia, Lithuania, Iceland, Panama and Andorra and have gone ahead whether or not their top players are available.

The games -- plus a lucrative sponsorship deal with sportswear manufacturers Nike -- have brought the cash rolling in.

But, in its final report, last year's Congressional investigation said the CBF's expenditure had increased even more quickly than its income.

Senator Geraldo Althoff, who compiled the report, claimed that the CBF had accumulated debts of 25 million real ($8.9 million) between 1995 and 2000 after being "administered in a negligent manner".


"Lack of control, disorganisation and bad management reign in the CBF," he said. "Mr Ricardo Teixeira, as president, is directly responsible for creating an environment which is ripe for an administrative disaster.

Brazilian domestic football remains in utter chaos, with a bewildering plethora of domestic competitions.

The national championship is invariably preceded by lengthy rows about the rules and who should take part. Two years ago, it did not take place at all because of a complex legal dispute.

Brazilian football is among the most violent in the world with an average of about 60 fouls per match.

Yet, amid all this confusion, the country is able to produce a world-beating national team -- which now appears set to break up.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose agreement with the CBF ended on Sunday, has not said whether he wants to stay on. After tasting the ultimate success, he may now prefer to look for other pastures rather than risk his new-found reputation.

European-based players such as Cafu, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Edmilson and Ronaldinho, who have effectively been commuting to South America every month for the last two years, may also want a break to improve strained relationships with their clubs.

As Scolari said after Sunday's final: "Brazilians can be disciplined when we want to be."

When Brazil pull together and make a serious effort to form a team, they are still one of the great forces, and one of the great sights, in the game.

Unfortunately, that only seems to happen every four years.

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