“Sport is very authoritarian,” said the Brazilian marine engineer Ivo Herzog. “And it mobilises millions of people. Apparently, sport attracts a certain kind of human being: men who used to work inside totalitarian forms of government, who are products of non-free environments, who can’t handle a democratic reality. They appear to feel comfortable inside sports administrations, in a way they don’t out in the real world.” For a couple of years, Herzog has been running a campaign to remove José Maria Marin from his positions as president of the Brazilian football federation (CBF) and head of the local organising committee for the World Cup.

“Shame on us. Shame on us,” Herzog repeated. “It’s embarrassing for Brazil that such a person is head of the World Cup and the CBF.” I met Herzog at the Vladimir Herzog Institute, in a small two-storey house in central São Paulo. The institute was established by Ivo and fights for human rights and freedom of speech. It’s named after Ivo’s father who worked as a news editor at the state-owned TV Cultura in the 1970s, a period when Brazil was governed by a right-wing dictatorship. Football was an important propaganda tool for the regime. It is there that the background for Ivo’s struggle against José Maria Marin is to be found.

In August and September 1975, TV Cultura was harshly criticised in a series of articles in the free newspaper Shopping News, a mouthpiece for the regime distributed to every home in São Paulo. The newspaper called TV Cultura’s Channel 2 “a communist stronghold” and the “prolonged arm of Vietnam’s leader Ho Chi Minh”.

At that time, Marin held a seat in the São Paulo state congress as a representative for Arena, a party created by the military in 1964, the year of the coup. Arena was the party of the regime and, on 9 October 1975, Marin took to the speaker’s platform in the São Paulo congress. He made an aggressive and heartfelt speech about TV Cultura and its alleged leftist turn: “For some time now, the press has described the problems in TV Cultura and asked for proper measures to be taken by the appropriate authorities. I find it strange that nothing has happened. This can’t continue. If we want to restore peace and harmony in São Paulo homes, quick action is needed.”

Two weeks later, agents from São Paulo’s secret police knocked on TV Cultura’s door. They wanted Vladimir.

The regime had established several different security units whose task was to “keep peace and order” in the country. In reality, this meant to persecute and torture opposition voices. Departments and police bureaus — CIE, SIN, CENIMAR, DOPS and DOI-CODI — had a network of prisons, abandoned factories, apartment buildings and houses at their disposal. Union leaders, leftist journalists, intellectuals, potential communist sympathisers and other critics of the government were brought to these places to be questioned and tortured. One example is today’s Brazilian president, Dilma Rouseff, who was imprisoned in 1970 for her involvement with an opposition group. In jail she was beaten and given electric shocks over a period of 22 days.

A specialty was ‘the fridge’, a concrete box 150cm square in which prisoners were bound naked for days. Oxygen entered through small holes in the walls and prisoners were not let out to go to the toilet. During the day time, government agents would beat their victims’ ears. At night absolute silence alternated with the noise of aeroplanes played at high volume while a strobe flashed bright lights in the darkness and the temperature fluctuated between freezing cold and extreme heat. The intention was to drive prisoners mad.

When the security forces came to get Vladimir at TV Cultura, the evening news was about to begin. Vladimir was scheduled to lead the programme so promised he would turn himself in the next morning. “The following day, before he left us, he told my mother that we didn’t need to be frightened,” said Ivo. “He had nothing to hide.” Vladimir arrived at the police with a colleague to act as a witness that he had turned up. His friend said goodbye and, as soon as the door clicked behind Vladimir, the torture began. A few hours later he was dead. The agents put a belt around his neck, hung the dead body from the roof and picked up a camera. A photograph was posted to his family and the press with the news that Vladimir had committed suicide in his cell.

A central figure in the São Paulo secret police was Sérgio Fleury, the boss of the DOPS bureau. Fleury was also an acquaintance of Marin and shortly after the death of Vladimir, Marin took to the speaker’s platform again. “Sérgio Fleury is an example,” he said. “Everyone who knows Fleury like I do, knows that this man loves his job. He passionately sacrifices everything for the São Paulo police. The city should be proud of him and those of us who know him can’t understand why his work isn’t valued as it should be.”

Marin’s first speech, when he demanded action against the news programmes on TV Cultura, was held just before the murder of Vladimir Herzog. His second speech was an acknowledgement of the work of Fleury, a leading figure in the torture chambers in São Paulo. Because of those two speeches, Ivo’s opinion is that José Maria Marin was a part of the apparatus behind his father’s death and that he’s therefore unfit to head CBF and to represent Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.

The dictatorship in Brazil is at times described having been more benign than the ones in Argentina and Chile. In Argentina, between 9000 and 30,000 people were killed between 1976 and 1983. In Chile between 1200 and 3200 were killed and around 30,000 tortured during the rule of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1990). In Brazil, the generals were in power from 1964 to 1985, and during those years between 400 and 500 people lost their lives. Thousands were tortured, forced into exile, lost their jobs or were forcibly moved.

Brazil didn’t have one dictator who ruled for 21 years continuously, but a rotation system by which different generals ruled for five years at a time. The most brutal years were between 1969 and 1974, during the reign of Emílio Médici. In 1968, there were huge demonstrations around the country. Several guerrilla groups emerged and, at times, the tension broke into open armed conflict. The result was that the hardliners won their way in the government. Censorship was tightened and freedom of speech disappeared. The use of torture became common. Around Brazil, a network of informers was established, all with guidance and material support from the USA...

In the same period, industrial output and the economy were growing. People in the upper levels of society became wealthier — and tacitly approved of the brutal regime. The gap between rich and poor continued to increase and among the poorest Brazilians few children had the opportunity to go to school. 33% of the population were illiterate. The generals didn’t shut down Congress, but instead tried to create the impression that real political discussions took place. They were partly successful, with many Brazilians never knowing the extent and brutality of the political persecution in their country.

In 1969, the Brazil national team needed a new head coach after the dismissal of João Saldanha. It had been a major surprise when he was appointed on 4 February 1968. He was a member of the Communist party and hadn’t worked as a coach since leaving Botafogo in 1959. He led them to the Carioca championship in 1957, with Garrincha just entering his prime, and these days, his three years in charge there is seen as the start of Botafogo’s golden period. Saldanha spent the decade after leaving Botafogo working as a journalist, writer and commentator. He was always a sharp critic of players and managers and acquired the nickname ‘Fearless João’, because he was never afraid of conflict, no matter his opponent. When he took over Brazil, the national team still hadn’t fully recovered after the 1966 World Cup, where they didn’t even make it through the group stage.

On the day Saldanha was appointed, he announced his first and second teams. His football philosophy was simple: he just put the best players on the pitch and let them play. His newly composed team immediately played well, winning all six of its games in the qualifiers for the 1970 World Cup. They were also brilliant in friendlies. But in March 1970, clouds began to brew. Tostão, top scorer in qualification, needed surgery. The team lost a friendly against Argentina, then drew against the Rio side Bangu AC. After the Bangu match, Saldanha said that something was wrong with Pelé’s eyes and that he wanted to rest him for the next game, against Chile. He then suggested the midfielder Gérson had psychological problems.

Saldanha claimed he was under political pressure. He was heavily criticised after the poor results against Argentina and Bangu. Particularly vehement condemnation came from Yustrich, the coach of Flamengo who had led the national team for one game in 1968 and considered himself a good candidate to replace Saldanha. Saldanha responded by showing up at Flamengo on 12 March 1970 with a gun in his hand and demanding to speak to Yustrich. Fortunately Yustrich wasn’t there, but a goalkeeper who was having a trial at the club was so terrified that he left the club the following day and never returned. It wasn’t the first time Saldanha had used his gun: in 1967, he had fired two shots in the air during an argument with the goalkeeper at Bangu after accusing him of match-fixing.

At the same time, Saldanha got himself into trouble with Médici. The president invited the squad to a banquet so the press could see him greeting the players and wishing them well for the World Cup. The event, though, clashed with Saldanha’s training schedule, so he turned down the invitation. Shortly afterwards, Médici said in a newspaper interview that Saldanha should pick the Atlético Mineiro forward Dario Maravilha, using as his argument a friendly the previous September in which Dario had scored in a 2-1 defeat for the Seleção against a Belo Horizonte state side. Saldanha preferred an additional midfielder in his squad. When he was asked about the president’s suggestions, Saldanha responded with the now famous words, “I don’t pick the ministers and he doesn’t pick the players.” He was sacked shortly afterwards.

Mario Zagallo1, a World Cup winner as a player in 1958 and 1962, was appointed to succeed him. The first thing he did was to call up Dario. The forward remained in the squad up to the World Cup, and played a few minutes in the pre-tournament friendlies. That summer, Brazil won the World Cup in Mexico, playing a brand of football that enchanted the world. In the final, eight of the players Saldanha had picked for his first team the year before were on the pitch: the goalkeeper Felix, the central defenders Brito and Piazza, the right-back Carlos Alberto Torres, the central-midfielder Gérson, the right-winger Jairzinho and the central forwards Pelé and Tostão. Three players were moved up from Saldanha’s original second team: the left-back Everaldo, the defensive midfielder Clodoaldo and Rivellino, who usually played centrally, but under Zagallo was positioned on the left wing.

The veterans Pelé, Gérson and Carlos Alberto Torres became known as “the cobras” and, after the change of coach, they had a strong influence on both the selection of the team and the style of play. As a coach, Zagallo preferred that his teams played it safe with a solid defence but in 1970 the tactic was — apart from the game against England — basically the same as under Saldanha: put the best players together and let them play football. Some would say this was the last time any team won an important championship with such an approach.

When they got back to Brazil, the players were soon taken to meet Médici and pose for photographs with him. In recent years, those players have been criticised for allowing their images to be used as propaganda tools for the dictatorship. In his unpublished memoirs, for instance, Sócrates, the captain of Brazil’s 1982 side, wondered what might have happened “if the players had stood behind their coach and supported him, instead of just obeying orders from above. Or if a player like Pelé had taken a clear stance against the excesses that destroyed the future of Brazil’s youth.” Pelé did the opposite. In 1972 he was asked what he thought about the dictatorship, and answered, “There is no dictatorship in Brazil. Brazil is a liberal country, a land of happiness. We are a free people. Our leaders know what is best for [us], and govern [us] in a spirit of toleration and patriotism.” Sócrates said the situation was “almost like a civil war” and wrote that football players didn’t pay enough attention to what went on off the pitch: “With the ball at their feet, our players were romantics. The rest of the time, they kept silent.”

General Médici was an avid football fan and he published pictures of himself during the 1970 World Cup, ear glued to the radio, listening to games. His attempt to legitimise his regime by linking it to the Seleção was clear and when the team returned home, he gave a pompous victory speech: “I get a deep feeling of happiness when I see the people’s joy, in this highest form of patriotism,” he said. “This victory is a result of good sportsmanship and brotherly community and I see it as part of a belief in our fight for national development.”

The general didn’t stop there. He also started to attend Flamengo games every time he was in Rio and tried to influence their coaches as well. He was involved, for instance, when his favourite player Dario went from Atlético Mineiro to Flamengo in 1973. In 1971, the regime initiated the first national football championship, in addition to the state championships, as the military sought to unify the country. The national league was chaotic from the beginning — and was never only about sport. Club leaders around the country could secure places in the four-division national league by showing loyalty to the regime and to the CBF.

From 1975, the same person was head of both Arena and the CBF: Hélio Nunes. From then on, a new proverb came into being: in areas in which Arena was unpopular, the local football team would suddenly get a place in the national league. The result was a monster — a gigantic league with huge numbers of teams, changes of rules and enormous differences in quality. In most countries, the model of the national league is quite simple: all the teams meet each other twice, home and away, and the winner is the team with most points. In Brazil in the 1970s it was different and the league changed format every year. Some of the formats are almost impossible to understand. Evidently, CBF and Arena had a lot of political alliances to maintain. Here’s how, for instance, the 1978 version was arranged: 74 teams participated, divided into six groups from A to F. Four of them had 12 teams, two had 13. In the first round, all teams met once and they all qualified for the next round, where the top six in each group were placed in four groups of nine teams, G–J. The six best teams in these four groups went to the third round. The rest of the teams in groups A–F were placed in six groups, K–P. Two of these groups consisted of six teams, three of them seven. The winner of each group also went to the third round, which then consisted of top six from G–J and winners from K–P. These were placed in four new groups Q–T, which also included the best placed loser from both G–J and K–P. Top two in the groups Q–T went to the last round, which consisted of knock-out stages from quarter finals up to the final. The next year was easier, at least for some. Palmeiras ended up in fourth place, having played only five games through the season — even though 96 teams participated. The best teams from the year before — Palmeiras among them — entered the series at a late stage. In 1974, one of the criteria for final placement in the table was how much the clubs had earned from ticket sales.

The coach for that year’s World Cup was the same as in 1970: Mário Zagallo. But Brazil’s football was different. This time they played a more physical and defensive style. Defeat to the Netherlands in a brutal final game in the second group phase meant they went into a third-place play-off, which they lost to Poland. In his first autobiography Pelé wrote that the defensive shift came because of Zagallo’s football philosophy, which in 1974 had free reign — in contrast to 1970, when only one of Brazil’s games (against England) was played defensively.

In 1975, Ernesto Geisel replaced Médici as president and Cláudio Coutinho was appointed as the new head coach of the national team. Coutinho had never been a footballer, but had a military background. He said he wanted to “modernise” Brazilian football by accentuating discipline and subservience to the team ideal instead of improvisation and individual skills, physical strength instead of technical futebol arte. Coutinho likened his team to a “light army” and decorated the training grounds with military banners and patriotic slogans. He even stated that dribbles were “a Brazilian speciality, but a waste of time and proof of the country’s weakness”. The players didn’t agree with Coutinho and before the 1978 World Cup, a player rebellion almost broke out. Coutinho’s answer was to omit the midfielder Paulo Cézar Lima from the squad, using the excuse that the player said in the press that racist abuse was still an issue in Brazil.

Before the squad for the 1978 World Cup was announced, everybody assumed that Paulo Roberto Falcão would be part of it. The 25-year-old midfielder had won the league with the Porto Alegre side Internacional in 1975 and 1976 and was a technically brilliant player who had performed well when picked for the Seleção. But Coutinho left him out; it was assumed because he preferred more physical players.

Falcão’s career ran from 1972 to 1986. When I interviewed him about life in the 1970s, he didn’t want to make any moral judgment on others who played in that decade. He says that the flow of information was different in those days and that he finds it difficult to criticise actions that took place in the past. “Brazil was a dictatorship, but parts of the Brazilian population didn’t even know it,” he said. “The level of education was low and it was difficult to get genuine information about what was really going on. Because of this, it wasn’t easy for footballers to discuss political issues. The CBF organised everything and the players were concerned about doing well on the pitch and having fun with a football.”

Falcão turned 17 in 1970. He sees the photo session with the world champions and the dictator as part of a tradition. “It was completely normal that the national team visited the president on the way to face the world, to receive compliments and congratulations. That was the way things were done before the dictatorship, and it’s done the same way today,” he said, adding that this particular propaganda move probably helped the president a lot. “Football was enormously popular. Everybody followed the World Cup in 1970. I’m sure he got something out of the campaign, but it’s hard to pinpoint what it was. Personally, I have to admit I didn’t feel anything special when I saw the pictures of the team and Médici in 1970. It wasn’t until later, with Democracia Corinthiana, that a serious connection between football and politics was made.”

Democracia Corinthiana was a movement established by Sócrates, Falcão’s teammate at the World Cups of 1982 and 19862. Sócrates arrived at Corinthians in 1978, when he was 24 years old. He didn’t like the fact that the players were, as he saw it, treated like children and believed that they should have a say when the club made decisions affecting the players. In the eyes of Sócrates, the injustice faced by the players at Corinthians and the injustice faced by the Brazilian people under the dictatorship were two sides of the same coin. Together with the full-back Wladimir and later the forward Casagrande, he managed to install a democracy within the club. The players voted by show of hands on all kinds of questions, from the lunch menu to methods of training and how to approach the media. They also tried to get rid of the concentração-tradition, by which the players were locked in a hotel one or two days before every match. It was a tradition that had been invented to help ensure the players didn’t overindulge the night before games and that they showed up in time for kick-off on match days. Concentração is still practised at the majority of Brazilian clubs in 2014.

Sócrates’s family originally came from Ceará, in the north of Brazil but moved to Ribeirão Preto in upstate São Paulo. His father was a keen reader and filled the family house with books. The son inherited the intellectual curiosity of his father, remembering how he had burnt several books when the tanks rolled through the country in 1964. Besides being a top player, Sócrates also studied and became a doctor. One of his nicknames on the football field was Doutor — Doctor.

Democracia Corinthiana grew and in 1982 it fielded a candidate, Waldemar Pires, in the elections to be club president. They were opposed by a group known as Order and Truth. By then, the regime had relaxed a little, starting to introduce democratic reforms in some sectors of society. Order and Truth was seen as a continuation of the old ways of the military. Several players officially supported Democracia Corinthiana and Sócrates gambled, saying he’d retire immediately if Order and Truth won. He was at the peak of his career as skipper of the national team, a key player for his club and a major idol for the fans. Most people were confident he’d keep his word. To the relief of the corinthianos, Democracia Corinthiana won. Even better, Corinthians won the Campeonato Paulista the same year — with “Democracia” written on the back of the club shirts. In some games in October, that text was changed to “Dia 15 Vote” — “Vote on the 15th” — the day of the election in São Paulo. Later Sócrates said, “That team was the greatest I ever played on, because it was always about more than just sport. The political victories are more important than the victories I won as a player. A game is finished after 90 minutes. Life goes on.” 

The dissolution of the dictatorship in Brazil happened slowly and step by step. Corinthians’ contribution is today considered an important part of the process. In 1984, Sócrates spoke in front of 1.5 million people during a political meeting in São Paulo. The Italian side Fiorentina wanted to buy him, but he preferred to continue at Corinthians. At the same time, politicians in Brazil were discussing whether they should approve a bill that granted free, direct presidential elections. The crowd roared when Sócrates gambled again and said he’d continue at Corinthians if the Brazilian congress decided to introduce free elections. But the bill didn’t go through and Sócrates went to Fiorentina — against his own wishes. Arriving in Italy, he was asked which player he had the most respect for, Mazzola of Inter or Rivera of Milan? Both of them were major players in Italy in the 1970s. “Never heard of them,” said Sócrates. “I’m here to read Gramsci in the original language and to study the history of the Italian working class.” Gramsci was a philosopher who was jailed under Benito Mussolini in the 1930s for his political writings.

The generals in Brazil finally conceded in 1985. Sócrates’s football career continued until 1989 and after that he worked as a doctor, a TV pundit, a commentator and a writer, among other things. When asked whether he would pursue a career in politics, as Pelé and many other former players had done, he answered, “No — I’m a political person.”

In 1982, the same year as the first elections in São Paulo state were held, José Maria Marin transferred himself from politics to sport. He’d been a footballer as a youngster and, in 1982, he became president of the São Paulo football federation. Since then, Marin has held several important positions in Paulista football and in the CBF. In 2012 he became president of CBF, replacing Ricardo Teixeira, who had been found guilty of having taken US$42m in bribes relating to the sale of TV rights for the World Cup and other championships. At his inauguration, Marin expressed his deepest respect for his predecessor and explained his own aims as president: “To continue the excellent work of Teixeira — his administration serves as an example.” At the same time, Marin became boss of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2014 World Cup.

Which brings us back to Herzog and his efforts to shed light on Marin’s past. “I’m not saying José Maria Marin was responsible for the death of my father,” he said. “But he was part of the process that led to the torture and murder. Afterwards, he applauded what happened. In the summer, he’ll be standing with a big smile representing Brazil in front of the whole world. We can’t let it happen. It would be as though an old Nazi leader was representing Germany during the World Cup in 2006. The football isn’t his. It’s ours!” 

The Herzogs are Jewish and during the Second World War Vladimir escaped from Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, suicides are buried at the boundary of the graveyard. But when the priests prepared Vladimir’s body for burial, they decided he should be buried in the heart of the graveyard. The scars were clear: he hadn’t committed suicide as the police had claimed. “One week later, they held a big ecumenical memorial ceremony in the cathedral on Praça da Sé in central São Paulo,” said Ivo. “The Jewish rabbi cooperated with the Catholic bishop and a protestant priest. 8000 people came to the mass, including a large part of the city’s media. Many historians see this as the beginning of the end of the fascist regime.” Several Catholic priests were vocal critics of the dictatorship.

“In 1979 an amnesty law was passed,” Ivo went on. “It was supposed to protect everyone who was forced into exile or arrested during the dictatorship and let them return home as free people. But typically for Brazil, the amnesty law had a twist: it worked both ways. Everyone who took part in the crimes committed by the regime was protected by the amnesty as well.”

In April 2013, Ivo handed a petition to CBF with 55,000 signatures. He demanded a full investigation into Marin’s past and that Marin should resign from both his posts. By Ivo’s side stood Romário, the former world champion and forward for Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Barcelona and PSV, today a politician. When Marin’s predecessor Teixeira left office, Romário wrote on his Facebook site, “Today we can celebrate: we’ve got rid of a cancerous tumour from Brazilian football.” A few months later, during a hearing in Brasília about Marin, he said, “People stop me on the streets. They say, bring back Teixeira, this new guy is worse.”

When Romário and Herzog handed in the 55,000 signatures, the whole of the Brazilian media was there — except Rede Globo, the most important TV channel. Because of this, Herzog feels his campaign didn’t hit as hard as it might have done. Globo is a media empire that grew out of the newspaper O Globo, established in 1925. The TV channel Rede Globo was established in 1965, a year after the generals took power. That might seem a strange moment to start an independent TV channel: when Brazil became a dictatorship, the freedom of speech was tightened and the press was severely censored. Newspapers and TV channels were supposed to support the regime, not criticise it. Roberto Marinho (1904–2003) was head of Rede Globo and during the 21 years of dictatorship, the TV channel grew to be the biggest in the country. Globo became the biggest media empire and Marinho became a billionaire.

Rede Globo is most famous for its production of soap operas, which were perfected in this period. But Marinho and Globo have also repeatedly been accused of being allies with the dictatorship and for being its ‘intellectual’ mentor. Globo has never made any critical research into its own history since 1964. But on 31 August 2013 O Globo printed an editorial in which it admitted it had been wrong to support the dictatorship. The editorial took many by surprise: was this the start of a ‘new’ Globo? It soon became apparent that it wasn’t. Globo continued to describe the nationwide demonstrations — the ones that started during Confederations Cup in June and continued throughout the year — as the work of vandals and criminals, as it had done since the beginning. There was no political shift in sight and no more self-examination came.

O Globo has written about Ivo’s campaign. But the media empire has no interest in any kind of thorough discussion about the situation of the press during the dictatorship. Ivo thinks they’re too weak and that they consciously avoid confronting Marin with his past, for fear of revealing unpleasant parts of their own history. Rede Globo is, today, the channel all Brazilians love to hate — even though they watch it all the time. The channel has 48% market coverage. The nearest competitors are far behind, with 14% and 6% respectively. “Rede Globo has commercial deals with the CBF and tries to avoid conflict as long as they can,” says Ivo. The channel has the rights to the Campeonato Brasileiro and is considered a powerhouse inside Brazilian football.

Ivo continues his struggle, with or without support from Globo. During the World Cup, a large exhibition created by the Vladimir Herzog Institute will present newspapers, magazines, books, records, artworks, pictures and films that were banned in the days of the dictatorship. It explains something about Marin’s work during that period. The exhibition premiered in Brasília in August 2013. I was in the capital on the day of the opening and went to see it. It was held in the same building that houses the office of the Brazilian Truth Committee, which was established in 2011 to investigate the human rights violations that happened during dictatorship. People from the committee came in huge numbers. “José Maria Marin is scared to death of our work,” said one of them, while we were looking at a record cover of the bossa nova singer Chico Buarque, who wrote several anti-dictatorship songs during the 1970s. “And he has already announced that he’ll resign straight after the World Cup. He doesn’t dare to stay in place any longer because he knows that sooner or later his past will come back to him.”

Ivo would like him to disappear before the World Cup, but who could make such a thing happen? “Well,” said Ivo, “No one, really.” The CBF is defined as a non-profit organisation, as is Fifa. They’re private NGOs, which can create their own rules and regulations. The CBF has done just that and the presidents of the 27 state football federations in Brazil elected Marin. In spring 2013, Marin gathered all of them at an AGM in Rio de Janeiro. Before the meeting, the atmosphere was fractious. Several presidents were critical towards Marin, among them Francisco Novelletto from Rio Grande do Sul. Novelletto rebelled against Teixeira as well and before the meeting in 2013 he declared that the battle he started against Teixeira still went on under Marin. Some expressed dismay because of Marin’s past, afraid of the stigma that follows the allies of the generals today. The presidents have to approve Marin’s accounts and many of them questioned the numbers. But after the meeting, the rebel Novelletto said that the accounts were convincing and he played down Marin’s contact with the generals. How could he change his mind so quickly? 

Ivo claims the presidents have been bought off with fancy hotels and a cheque each. I suggest that this money is for the state federations, not the presidents themselves. Ivo smiles, as if I’m naïve. “There’s really no difference. The only thing that can make Marin resign is national and international political pressure. As well as pressure from everyone involved here in Brazil.” 

He has handed his petition to Fifa’s new Ethics Committee. In 2013, this committee had its hands full with handling the fall-out of the award of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Ivo’s inquiries have been ignored so far.

Few people believe Marin will resign but a huge part of the Brazilian population has been made aware of his past, despite Globo’s lack of interest. Many people have also noticed the similarities between Marin’s rhetoric and the language used in the 1970s. Before the Confederations Cup in 2013, he engaged his allies in the CBF. “I’m on my way to war,” he explained. “If the first trench [Confederations Cup] causes a lot of trouble, the pressure will be even bigger before trench number two [World Cup 2014]. I want my own commander and my own soldiers.”

His strange actions in January 2012 also attracted comment. Marin was supposed to hand out gold medals to Corinthians as the winner of the Campeonato Paulista for junior players. During the ceremony, Marin put one of the medals in his pocket. The cameras were on, and showed Marin turning his head to the side, talking to the man next to him, keeping his body in motion as though he wanted to draw attention away from his hands, which discreetly sneaked a medal into his pocket. He took it with him afterwards and one of the Corinthians players had to leave the stadium without a gold medal around his neck.

Did he steal it as an old habit? Or is this common practice among football bosses? Or was the pilfering some sort of revenge because of Sócrates’s democracy movement at Corinthians 30 years earlier? Nobody knows, but Marin’s efforts to explain away the theft was met with scornful laughter across Brazil.

During the World Cup, Marin’s past may provoke strange juxtapositions. At some stage Marin and the Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff will probably stand next to each other, to hand out medals, greet teams or congratulate the winners, the way football presidents and political presidents always do. They would have one very awkward subject to discuss: their opposing experiences of state-sanctioned torture in the seventies.