By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press
SAO PAULO (AP) — The new head of Brazilian soccer took over Tuesday, promising as few changes as possible despite an often controversial reign by predecessor Ricardo Teixeira.
Career politician Jose Maria Marin praised the "stupendous" work of Teixeira, who stepped down Monday for health reasons after 23 years in charge.
"His administration was a model to be followed," Marin said. "Brazilian football is respected around the world because of his work."
Teixeira revamped the federation during his time but was also accused of corruption and irregularities in his administration.
The 79-year-old Marin also attracted unwanted attention when he was captured by TV cameras putting a winner's medal in his pocket during an under-18 championship this year. Marin was never accused of any wrongdoing by organizers and said the medal was given to him, but a player left the ceremony without one, receiving it only a few days later.
"I consider the whole thing a joke," Marin said. "It was a courtesy I received from the (local) federation, in front of everybody."
Marin's term will end in late 2014 after Brazil hosts the World Cup. He said he will be "open to dialogue" with the federal government to make sure the country's preparations stay on track.
A former Sao Paulo player and a lawyer, Marin entered politics in the 1960s. He became Sao Paulo state governor in 1982 and ran for Sao Paulo mayor in 2000 but was beaten easily.
He presided over the Sao Paulo state soccer federation for nearly five years in the 1980s, and was Brazil's chief of delegation at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
"He has an important past in football," Sao Paulo club president Juvenal Juvencio said. "I'm fully confident that he will bring in a new phase in Brazilian football,"
Several state federations opposed Marin's appointment and some clubs are reportedly teaming to try to change the federation's statutes so a new successor can be picked.
"We need change," Atletico Paranaense President Mario Celso Petraglia told local media.
Corinthians defender Paulo Andre added: "It means nothing to change the president but keep the mentality and the administration model. ... We need new ideas."
But Marin maintained that Brazilians should be grateful to Teixeira for his role in bringing the World Cup to Brazil for the first time since 1950.
"Our president turned the dreams of millions of Brazilians into reality," Marin said.
Marin also praised Joao Havelange, Teixeira's former father-in-law, who resigned from the International Olympic Committee late last year while facing a possible suspension for allegedly taking kickbacks from former FIFA marketing partner ISL in the 1990s.
"I'm still grateful and I respect these people (Teixeira and Havelange)," Marin said. "I'm thankful for both of them."
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