'I once paid to have a player play for Brazil' - Sport Club do Recife president

Luciano Bivar has made strong claims he paid a lobbyist to have Leomar called up to the 2001 Confederations Cup squad, but Brazil coach at that time, Emerson Leao, has denied it
Luciano Bivar, the president of Sport Club do Recife, has claimed he once paid money to have a player called up to the Brazil national side.

The 68-year-old, who ran in the Brazilian presidential election in 2006, says he paid a lobbyist back in 2001 to have Leomar called up to the Confederations Cup squad for that year's tournament.

He also claims that this is common practice in Brazilian football.

"I pushed a player to the national team by paying a commission. It was back in Leomar's time. I won't say the name of who took the money, but you can do your research and find out," he told Recife radio station Transamerica.

"Everybody makes [a case for a player to be called up] in Brazilian football. Ask Scolari how many lobbyists have called him asking for someone to get a call-up to the national team. This is the reality of Brazilian football. With Leomar, we paid a lobbyist."

Romario, famously a fierce critic of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), echoed Bivar's comments in the following statement.

He said: "Sport's president had the guts to come public and reveal what I have been saying for years. The former and the current CBF management are ruining our football.

"I hope more people have the same courage to come clean and tell stories that are very similar to that one for the good of the sport."

Meanwhile, Emerson Leao, who was the coach of Brazil at that time, has strongly refuted the allegations, insisting Leomar received a call-up because his performances merited it.

He told Arena Sportv, a Brazilian TV show: "First of all, I have nothing to hide. I am perplexed that a respectable man from Recife, who once ran for president of the country, came to speak about that in public.

"Now, a person who says something like that must be investigated by the Sports Council and the police. If that is confirmed, he must go to jail. The one who paid, and the one who received the money, too.

"The CBF president didn't let us call players from foreign clubs or from the big clubs. The only lobby there was for Leomar's call-up was the great year he had playing football as a defensive midfielder while I was coaching Sport.

"Since I couldn't have defensive midfielders from the great clubs or playing outside the country, he was given the chance to play for the national team. Nothing more than that. There was no lobby."