Brazil court reinstates ousted federation president Rodrigues

A justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the country’s ousted soccer confederation president should be returned to office.

Justice Gilmar Mendes annulled a Rio de Janeiro court ruling dated Dec. 7 that removed Ednaldo Rodrigues and all his executives from their jobs at the confederation, known as the CBF, because of irregularities in the 2022 election process.

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The move comes four days before FIFA and South American soccer body CONMEBOL executives visit to discuss an allegedly undue third-party interference at the top of the CBF. Soccer’s governing body was threatening to suspend Brazil from international competitions because of it.

The Brazilian justice said there was “evident risk of damage” if Brazil was blocked from competing in Paris Olympic qualifiers this month because of the interference. Squads must submitted to soccer’s governing body by Friday, and the CBF has yet to send its list.

The 10 other justices of Brazil’s top court will analyze Mendes’ preliminary decision for a final ruling on a date to be determined.

Earlier on Thursday, Brazil’s Attorney-General Paulo Gonet and the country’s Solicitor-General’s Office publicly called for Rodrigues to be put back in office.

Thursday’s ruling ends a period in which the CBF was led by a court-appointed overseer, José Perdiz, who was responsible for organizing new elections. The process was already in motion with two candidates bidding for support of local federations and clubs to replace Rodrigues.

Spokespeople for Perdiz and Rodrigues did not reply a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Rodrigues first took the job as interim president in 2021 after predecessor Rogério Caboclo was suspended for an alleged sexual assault against a CBF staffer.

During his time out of office, Rodrigues saw his biggest political gamble fail. He repeatedly said he had a deal with Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti to take over Brazil in July, but the Italian announced on Dec. 29 he had extended his contract with Madrid until 2026.

The contract of Brazil‘s interim coach Fernando Diniz ends days before this year’s Copa America, which will be played in the United States. Diniz currently splits his national team job with being coach of Copa Libertadores winner Fluminense.

Rodrigues’ term in office runs through 2026. He is yet another CBF president to face legal problems, though he is not involved in corruption cases like predecessors Ricardo Teixeira, José Maria Marin and Marco Polo del Nero.