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Mar 12, 2013

Rosell facing jail over Brazil allegations

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell could reportedly face up to eight years in jail after Brazilian prosecutors accused his sports company of illegally profiting from a Brazil v Portugal friendly it organised in 2008.

The prosecutors say that they have serious reservations about the context in which Rosell's marketing company Ailanto received about €3.5 million in public money to organise the game. Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo claimed on Tuesday that €400,000 of that money ended up in an account in Rosell's name in Spain.

Although similar allegations about the background of the game have previously been dismissed, the prosecutors say this was due to a forged document being presented as evidence. A Brazilian judge has agreed to hear the new trial.

Rosell's lawyer in Brazil, Antenor Madruga, told Associated Press that the charges were "ridiculous" and "rest on nothing".

"The charges that have been leveled are under two allegations,'' Madruga said." One about whether his company had the capacity to promote matches, the other whether he presented false documents to prove he was able to promote matches. The police investigation did not come to any conclusion, but the prosecutor went ahead anyway. The charges are ridiculous, it is nothing. The legality of this case rests on nothing.''

Folha de Sao Paulo say that Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira benefitted from the game to the tune of €275,000. In March 2012, Teixeira resigned from the CBF and from the 2014 World Cup organising committee, citing health reasons. His two-decade-long spell in charge of Brazilian football had been dogged by controversy and allegations of corruption.

Rosell's relationship with Teixeira goes back to his time as head of Nike's sports marketing in South America. In 2001, corruption investigations by Brazil's Congress found irregularities in Nike's sponsorship deal of the Brazilian national team, but no charges were brought.

News of the potential new trial is the latest controversy to hit Rosell, who became Barca president in 2010 and is currently involved in a bitter battle with his former associate and predecessor Joan Laporta. Banners critical of Rosell were removed from Barca's Camp Nou during Saturday's 2-0 La Liga win over Deportivo La Coruna.