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"No one has fought so vigorously against that gang than me, and so I am a legitimate candidate," said Romario de Souza Faria.
Soccer fans may remember him for leading Brazil to their record fourth FIFA World Cup title in 1994, but if Romario de Souza Faria – known simply as Romario – has his way, he could be recognised internationally for cleaning up the scandal-plagued Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
The 51-year-old former striker, who now serves as the senator for the state of Rio de Janeiro, has announced his plans to run for president of the CBF on an anti-corruption platform. He publicized his intentions four days after CBF President Marco Polo del Nero was suspended for 90 days by soccer world body FIFA.
Del Nero is being investigated in Brazil for alleged unethical conduct. He and his two predecessors, Ricardo Teixeira and José Maria Marin, have been charged in the United States in the most prominent corruption scandal in soccer's history.
"No one has fought so vigorously against that gang than me, and so I am a legitimate candidate," said Romario, who has led several congressional investigations into corruption in Brazilian soccer on Instagram. "I have the qualifications for the job. My credentials are my whole contribution to soccer, on and off the field."
He blamed former FIFA President Joao Havelange, who died last year, for installing a "system" of graft in Brazilian soccer and beyond. Last year, Romario called for the prosecution of Marin, Teixeira and del Nero at the end of a congressional inquiry he was leading.
Romario helped Brazil win a record fourth World Cup title in 1994 in the United States. His popularity earned him a seat as a congressman and then senator for his home state of Rio de Janeiro. He has said he plans to run for governor of Rio to reform the financially bankrupt state.