- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

SAO PAULO (AP) - The president of the Brazilian football confederation will not attend FIFA’s upcoming executive committee meeting in Switzerland, where his predecessor was arrested on corruption charges less than two months ago.

Marco Polo Del Nero is a member of the committee but has decided to skip Monday’s extraordinary meeting in Zurich, where former Brazilian confederation president Jose Maria Marin remains detained awaiting extradition to the United States.

The Brazilian confederation confirmed to The Associated Press early Saturday that Del Nero won’t travel to Switzerland to participate in FIFA’s meeting, but did not officially say why he is not making the trip.

Local media said Del Nero sent a letter to FIFA saying that he had to stay in Brazil to handle local matters, including a recently installed congressional investigation into the confederation and local football.

Del Nero, who has repeatedly said he is not concerned about being linked to the FIFA investigation, was in Switzerland at the time of the early morning raids that led to the arrest of Marin and six other soccer officials just a couple of days before FIFA’s presidential election. Del Nero hastily returned to Brazil before the vote that re-elected Sepp Blatter, saying he was needed at home to give “any necessary explanations” to local authorities.

Monday’s extraordinary meeting is likely to decide on an election date to replace Blatter, who later announced he would leave office amid the crisis. The meeting is also expected to discuss structural changes at football’s world governing body.

Del Nero also didn’t leave Brazil to accompany the national team during the Copa America in Chile a few weeks ago; a decision that many criticized.

Del Nero was a vice president during Marin’s administration but has denied knowing anything about the accusations involving the former president. He has repeatedly said he is not one of the many “co-conspirators” mentioned in the report unveiled by U.S. authorities in May.

Del Nero has also denied any wrongdoing in his administration, which began in April, and has dismissed any possibility of resigning despite widespread calls for his departure.

According to local media, Del Nero said another reason he needs to stay in Brazil is to deal with legislation that is being worked on to improve the financial situation of local clubs.

Last week, Brazil’s Senate started a congressional investigation into the local confederation. The probe is being led by former star player Romario, who said the committee plans to fully investigate Del Nero’s actions as head of Brazilian football.

The other member of FIFA’s executive committee from CONMEBOL, the sport’s governing body in South America, is Luis Bedoya, the president of the Colombian football confederation. CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout is one of FIFA’s vice presidents. It wasn’t yet clear whether they would be going to Zurich for Monday’s meeting.

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