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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Marco Polo del Nero, the embattled head of the Brazilian football confederation, told a federal senate panel Wednesday that accusations made against him of racketeering and money laundering were "unfair."
Del Nero was one of 16 soccer officials indicted earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Justice.
An investigation by American and Swiss officials has snared the last three presidents of the CBF, all of whom have been indicted: Del Nero and his predecessors Jose Maria Marin and Ricardo Teixeira.
"I am accused in an unfair way," Del Nero told the panel chaired by former Barcelona star Romario, who is now a federal senator. "If you see what is happening in world football it is normal that I am being questioned."
The senate is leading an investigation into corruption in the Brazilian game.
Del Nero has taken a leave of absence to fight the accusations. CBF vice president Marcus Antonio Vicente is his temporary replacement.
"I intend to prove that I am innocent and return to the CBF," Del Nero said. "Administration, ethics and transparency are fundamental."
Del Nero has been forced to give up his post on the FIFA executive committee as a representative of the South American federation CONMEBOL.
He is also under pressure to resign by local players who gathered Tuesday at the CBF headquarters to demand his ouster.
Marin was arrested in Switzerland and has been extradited to the United States.
American officials will have a difficult time getting their hands on Teixeira or Del Nero. While the U.S. and Brazil have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1960s, Brazil has a long history of not extraditing its own citizens to other nations.
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