Brazil’s football federation (CBF) has denied allowing a sports marketing firm to decide who plays for the country’s national team.
A report in the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper on Sunday claimed ISE, a company based in the Cayman Islands, has influenced team selection since signing a contract with the CBF in 2006.
Brazil suffered a humiliating 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany in 2014.
In a statement published on its website, the CBF refuted allegations that it “sold” or “auctioned” Brazil’s national team. The game equaled Brazil’s all-time biggest margin of defeat, when they lost 6-0 to Uruguay in 1920.
“The CBF vehemently repudiates these malicious insinuations,” the federation said. “The contract [with ISE] is not a secret and at no times does it influence player selection.”
The report said the contract allowed ISE to nominate players who must start every game and veto those deemed not marketable enough.
ISE belongs to Dallah Al-Baraka, a Saudi Arabian holding company with investments in finance, healthcare, banking, transport, manufacturing and other industries.
The reports, if proved correct, could be a huge shock for the Brazilian public.
The effects will be wide-ranging, for a whole host of reasons – political, economic and cultural – in a country where, despite everything, football remains so closely bound up with national identity.