Refereeing scandal rocks Brazil

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An inquiry is being launched after a leading director of the Brazilian national soccer confederation (CBF) resigned amid allegations of corruption.

A scandal erupted after the Globo television station played a recording of a telephone conversation which it said was between Ivens Mendes, head of the CBF's refereeing commission, and the president of Atletico Paranaense.

In the conversation, the man identified as Mendes offered to ask a referee to give Atletico a helping hand in a Copa Brasil match they were to play at home to Vasco da Gama.

The man identified as Mendes said: "I need you to send me 25,000 real (about pounds 15,000)... if I get a chance I will even ask the referee to give you a little bit of a hand.

"Tell your players to mark Edmundo [the Vasco da Gama striker] closely, he gets angry easily."

The man identified by Globo as Atletico's president, Mario Celso Petraglia, was heard to reply that Mendes should get in touch with his (Petralgia's) secretary who would "look after it''.

Atletico won the second round, first leg match 3-1. Edmundo, who has a long record of being sent off, and the Atletico defender Andrei were dismissed in the first half for fighting. Edmundo said of his dismissal: "It was a huge injustice."

Globo television alleged that Mendes, who resigned on Wednesday claiming he had been threatened, is seeking election to the Brazilian Congress and used money sent to him by club directors to help his election campaign. Globo said it been sent the tape anonymously.

Mendes admitted he had received money but claimed it was all above board: "What is wrong with me as a Brazilian citizen who is trying to start a political career accepting help from my friends?,'' he said.

Petraglia denied he had spoken to Mendes about the game and the match referee, Oscar Roberto de Godoi, said there had been no approaches "even by phone''.