“Honey, I think we should stay at home for Christmas this year.” This is the line that may well have been said by Marco Polo Del Nero, the president of the Brazilian Soccer Federation to his wife. The reason is straightforward: Marco Polo (as he is known in Brazil) was indicted on the same money-laundering and wire fraud charges as the three former FIFA officials currently in trial in Brooklyn. By staying in Brazil, Marco Polo is not subject to extradition to the United States.
Interesting, or perhaps ominously if you believe in anti-corruption, FIFIA has failed to sanction Marco Polo, although he did lose his seat on FIFA’s governing council since he could not travel outside Brazil to the council’s meetings. Reports indicate that one witness in the current FIFA trial, Alejandro Burzaco, “was the first witness to implicate the absent Del Nero. Burzaco described a typical bribe payment of $600,000 annually to top officials in Conmebol, the South American soccer confederation. Burzaco said that figure was elevated to $1 million for some of the most powerful officials—what was known as “the presidential treatment,” he said, repeating a phrase he heard invoked by Del Nero.”
Apparently Brazilian soccer officials do not seem to be concerned about having such a person lead their national soccer federation. There is an election scheduled for 2019 at point there may be a leadership change but at this point there does not seem to be any cry to remove Marco Polo. At this point the head of Brazilian’s national soccer federation has not seen his country’s team play a game outside of Brazil since 2015. With the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia, a Brazilian team bent on avenging the worse semi-final defeat of all-time (Germany 7—Brazil 1); it is not clear if Marco Polo would be present. Although it is not too far a stretch to believe that Russia would deny any U.S. extradition request. Of course, if Marco Polo’s plane had to stop somewhere in Europe for refueling, the situation might be different.