FIVB president, Ary Graça, broke the silence on the allegations made by ESPN Brasil. Graça released an official statement defending himself from the charges and said his resignation of the presidency of Brazilian Volleyball Confederation (CBV is the acronym in Portuguese), actually happened in December and has nothing to do with the disclosures made in the last days. Allegedly, some ex-Federation officials were making money by using CBV as a cover. According to ESPN Brasil series “Dossier Volleyball” written by journalist Lucio de Castro, some officials were signing contracts between the Confederation and their own companies (marketing agencies and consulting firms) for organizing big events in volleyball. These officials then earned big commissions from those negotiations.
The statement released by Ary Graça didn’t make things easier for him. The Brazilian Government ordered the Federal Secretary of Internal Control to start an investigation on the matter. CBV, like every other sports confederation in Brazil, must declare their contracts and expenses publicly.
To spice things up, the sport business columnist Erich Beting, from the publication UOL (one of the most popular in Brazil) wrote that the man behind the accusations was no less than Bernardo Rezende (aka Bernardinho), the multi champion coach that has been Head Coach of the Brazilian men’s team since 2001. Before that, Bernardinho was Head Coach of the Brazilian women's program for seven seasons. Bernardinho is well-respect in and out Brazil and he has won every possible title in volleyball. While the coach denied he’s the source for ESPN Brasil, Beting reiterates the information on Bernardinho’s participation is accurate. The fact is, many people linked to the coach are getting spots on CBV, replacing some of the accused. New names include former men’s national team coach Radames Lattari, former players Renan Dal Zotto and Leila Barros, and the president of Parana State Volleyball Federation, Neuri Barbieri, who helped Bernardinho to start his women’s club project back in the 1990s in Curitiba – now the team is based in Rio sponsored by Unilever. All those people are aligned with Rezende.
Other columnists emphasize that is no secret that Ary Graça and Bernardinho were never close and that they barely tolerate each other. The coach is very close to Bebeto de Freitas, another famous volleyball coach, Olympic medallist with Brazil in the 1980s and world champion with Team Italy in the 1990s, and a ferocious critic of Ary Graça. Freitas was the men’s national team coach when there was a volleyball boom in Brazil in the early eighties. Since that decade, Brazil has been a volleyball powerhouse.
In an interview to Globo TV, the country’s most-watched network, Rezende said, “It's a sense of betrayal and sadness because volleyball does not deserve it. Some people, somehow, may view the sport from a different, negative way. For me this is very sad”. On the same segment, the coach of the Brazilian women’s team and three-time Olympic gold medallist, José Roberto Guimarães, said the scandal may compromise the image of volleyball in Brazil. “You need to provide clarification to the society. Everyone should have access to it, the best thing is transparency, and everything must be crystal clear. The responsible for that, once their guilty is proven, must be banned from the sport”, stressed Guimarães, the only coach in history to win an Olympic gold both with men and women. He believes this storm in the back office may affect the players on the court.
Among the athletes, it is said that after the release of “Dossier Volleyball” by ESPN Brasil there’s a revolt growing. Brothers Gustavo and Murilo Endres spoke out vehemently. Murilo, MVP in the last world championships and in London Olympics, affirmed things must change, and those responsible must be punished for the good of the sport. Nothing has been said so far by FIVB on the matter, apart the clarification on Graça’s resignation from CBV. It’s still unknown if the scandal will affect his position as FIVB president.
UPDATE: Banco do Brasil Demands Answers
March 17th, 2014
Things are definitely getting more complicated in Brazil to FIVB president, Ary Graça. Banco do Brasil, CBV (Brazilian Volleyball Confederation)’s main sponsor and one of the country’s biggest commercial banks, issued an official statement this afternoon.
Banco do Brasil gave an ultimatum to CBV. The bank demanded some explanation on the matter and also urged some punishment to those involved in the scandal (the money used for those commissions paid to the CBV official’s companies was taken from the sponsorship). Those are mandatory measures if CBV intends to keep the sponsorship, informs Banco do Brasil.
It goes on, “Banco do Brasil clarifies that it will not accept any illegal practice, or anything detrimental to the sport that may have been committed by any entity which the bank has sponsorship contracts with”. Since the bank started sponsoring volleyball in 1991, this sport has brought to Brazil 19 Olympic medals and over 50 world titles including indoor competitions and tournaments on the beach.
The last renewal of the contract between CBV and Banco do Brasil happened in April 2012, extended for more five years. The partnership between the bank and Brazilian volleyball is considered one of the most successful in the local sports scenario. The return on marketing investment made by Banco do Brasil, has been strongly been associated the country's numerous volleyball victories. It was seen as such a win that it attracted the attention of other companies. Another giant of the financial sector, Bradesco, offered a huge amount to CBV to replace Banco do Brasil as the main sponsor. Banco do Brasil covered the difference in their next proposal in order to keep volleyball on its portfolio.
Last week, the Brazilian Government ordered the Federal Secretary of Internal Control to start an investigation on the matter. CBV, like every other sports confederation in Brazil, must declare their contracts and expenses publicly.
Meanwhile, the FIVB remains silent.