SAO PAULO – Brazilian congressman and former soccer star Romario has called for more transparency at the Brazilian Olympic Committee and in the country's organization of the 2016 Rio Games.
Romario says the Brazilian Olympic Committee must release more information on the committee's finances, including the officials' salaries, and that local organizers of the 2016 Games must avoid the overspending and the misuse of public funds that marked the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio.
The first-time congressman said although the Brazilian committee is a private entity, it needs to be transparent because it receives public funds for many of its activities.
Carlos Nuzman, president of both the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, dismissed Romario's appeal, saying that all financial dealings involving public money are being reported to the government's watchdog groups.
However, organizers admitted that salaries of the Brazilian committee's officials have not been released.
Romario questioned Brazilian Olympic officials during a hearing by a congressional commission, which invited them to give updates on Brazil's preparations for the games.
"It would be nice and important if the Brazilian Olympic Committee released more information about its finances so the people can have access to them," he said at Wednesday's hearing.
Since he took office, Romario has been critical of Brazil's preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, warning of overspending and misuse of funds by the local governments. He said the mismanagement of funds during the 2007 Pan Ams, acknowledged even by local officials, should serve as an example of the possible problems Brazil is facing again.
Romario praised Nuzman's competency and dedication ahead of the Brazilian Olympic Committee since 1995, but said it's not beneficial to the entity to have the same person in command for so long.
Nuzman has presided over the country's committee during four Olympic Games and the nation's results have improved significantly under his tenure, winning a total of 52 medals.
He said Brazil invested $390 million to prepare the country's athletes for the 2012 Games. Brazil will have a delegation of 259 athletes in London, where the goal will be to at least repeat the 15 medals won in Beijing four years ago.