Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho said Thursday he hopes the scandal-hit sport will learn lessons from the multi-million dollar corruption crisis engulfing governing body FIFA after a fresh wave of indictments last month. The deepening scandal has tainted FIFA’s image, with suspended president Sepp Blatter and his would-be successor, Michel Platini, both facing corruption allegations by Swiss prosecutors.
The United States justice department has also charged 16 ex-FIFA officials and sports marketing executives with more than $150 million of bribery and corruption dating back decades.
Beloved Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho said he hoped the sport will learn lessons from the crisis and come out the other end stronger.
“It’s a bit unpredictable now what’s going to happen,” 35-year-old Ronaldinho told reporters in Singapore, where he was launching a soccer academy.
“But our hope is that it’s for the better of the sport and that it can touch every confederation and every side of FIFA in the world.”
The 2002 World Cup winner and two-time FIFA World Player of the Year launched the Ronaldinho Football Academy in Singapore on Thursday.
US authorities are investigating evidence indicating Blatter was aware of $100 million in bribes paid to former members of the football body, according to a BBC report. The embattled body is set to hold leadership elections on February 26.
Five candidates, including Asia’s football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, are vying to succeed Blatter. The other candidates are former FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, South African business tycoon Tokyo Sexwale and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France.
The candidacy of UEFA chief Platini will be considered once his 90-day suspension by FIFA’s ethics committee is over on Jan. 5.