(New story with quotes, details from press conference)
RIO DE JANEIRO, May 29 (Reuters) - The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) will review any contracts under suspicion in charges filed by United States prosecutors, the group’s president said on Friday and ruled out resigning.
Marco Polo Del Nero, who took over from jailed former CBF chief Jose Maria Marin last year, said he was saddened by the corruption charges against his longtime friend and former boss, but he denied any involvement in bribery schemes laid out in indictments filed in New York on Wednesday.
“I won’t resign because I had nothing to do with it,” Del Nero told a press conference at CBF headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. “I knew nothing.”
Del Nero did not specify which contracts would be reviewed. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation found evidence of millions of dollars in bribes paid for a 1996 sponsorship deal between Brazil’s national team and a U.S. sportswear company, with details matching a deal with Nike Inc.
Nike has said it is cooperating with the investigation and that the indictment does not accuse the company of crimes.
Del Nero left a gathering of world soccer organization FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland shortly after senior officials, including Marin, were arrested and face extradition to the United States. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) annual congress re-elected Swiss Sepp Blatter, 79, to a fifth term on Friday despite pressure on him to resign.
Del Nero said he had rushed back to Brazil in order to give all necessary explanations to authorities, including federal police who began their own investigation of corruption allegations over decades at the highest levels of Brazilian soccer.
Brazil’s constitution forbids extradition of Brazilians.
Del Nero fits the description of one of two unidentified co-conspirators in the indictment, both of whom are described as “high-ranking officials” at CBF, FIFA and a South American soccer association.
Del Nero said he was not one of the unidentified co-conspirators whom the indictment said took bribes in connection with contracts for marketing and broadcast rights.
CBF handed over contracts signed under Marin and his predecessors to federal prosecutors, Del Nero said, in order to show a willingness to collaborate. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing and additional reporting by Brad Haynes in Sao Paulo; Editing by Grant McCool)