By El Pitazo with additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.
Former Venezuelan soccer coach, Richard Páez, asked the FIFA to step in to intervene in the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) to reorganize it, after a series of scandals which culminated with its last President dying of COVID-19 while he was in police custody.
Paez, now coaching Mineros de Guayana, issued a formal petition to FIFA through his Somos Vinotinto NGO.
“The time has come to assume positions that will part with the path of uncertainty that this situation of institutional chaos leads. Besides, we request the intervention of the current FVF by FIFA, through normalization and regulation board and out of our abnormal situation,” said Paez in the statement.
In early August and after weeks of rumors, FVF President Jesus Berardinelli got arrested for forgery and mismanagement of FVF funds. After a few days in a prison cell, however, he was remanded to a hospital, where he died of COVID-19.
Venezuelan professional soccer has been in scandal since May 2015, when then FVF president, Rafael Esquivel, got arrested in Switzerland, extradited to the US, and jailed for his role in an international soccer scandal.
Esquivel was accused of being part of a corrupt network involved in the organization of the Copa America soccer tournament in Venezuela, among other corrupting dealings. In 2016 Esquivel was released after posting a $7 million bail bond and is now reportedly in house arrest, awaiting trial.
Paez said the FVF has involved in local politics, something the FIVA expressly prohibits.
“We must overcome being leading by a federative leadership which is immersing in a contaminated environment by politics, by an impure and illegal election, and the absence of diverse projects to guarantee the evolution of our Venezuelan football,” warned Paez.