Brazilian Sports Minister Resigns after Corruption Allegations

October 27, 2011

Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva has resigned from his position following the serious corruption allegations that emerged against him earlier this month.

The allegations came from influential Brazilian magazine Veja who claimed that he aimed to embezzle around $23 million for himself and his Communist party over eight years by awarding fraudulent Government contracts for a number of projects, including one that promotes sport for poor children.

The Sports Minister had rushed back to Brazil from the Pan American Games here last week to defend himself from the allegations but he has now decided to step down from his high-ranking job although he maintains his innocence.

Following a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Silva said: “I submitted my resignation, I decided to leave the Government so that I can defend my honour.”

Silva’s resignation comes less than 24 hours after the country’s Supreme Federal Court confirmed that it has opened a formal investigation into the allegations which effectively made his position untenable.

A spokesperson from the office of the President said: “After that Supreme Court decision, Orlando was a Minister who was already on his way out.”

The scandal is the latest corruption incident in Rousseff’s short reign as President as four senior Ministers have resigned or been sacked after being accused of illegal activity since her appointment in January.

Silva, who has been relentlessly hounded by the Brazilian media since the accusations emerged, is now the fifth Minister to be added to the list.

But he is arguably the most high profile due to the fact that he is the Government lead on both the FIFA 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games which will be the two biggest international sporting events in the history of the continent.

Silva has been involved in both global sporting events since their infancy after being named Sports Minister by popular former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva back in 2006.

He was also the only Minister from Brazil’s Communist Party to maintain his position when Rousseff’s Coalition Party came to power at the beginning of the year largely due to his heavy involvement and knowledge of the 2014 and 2016 projects.

Silva’s resignation could have catastrophic repercussions for the two events, particularly the 2014 World Cup which has already been heavily criticised by FIFA for being well behind schedule.

Rousseff is now expected to allow the Communist Party to nominate a replacement for Silva from its own ranks.

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