Brazil-Argentina US friendly canceled as FIFA probe fallout

SAO PAULO: A friendly between Brazil and Argentina planned in the United States in September has been canceled as part of the fallout from the investigation into alleged corruption involving FIFA.

The head of the company handling logistics for the Argentine national team told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the match has been called off as the two Argentine businessmen who own Full Play, a sports marketing company which had rights for the friendly, remain under house arrest in Argentina after being indicted in May by the U.S. Justice Department.

The U.S. has launched a sweeping investigation into alleged bribery, racketeering and money-laundering, and indicted 14 soccer and sports marketing officials, including the Argentine businessmen.

This year's edition of the Superclassic of the Americas was originally scheduled to be played on Sept. 5 in San Francisco.

"It's public knowledge all the problems involving Full Play right now," Guillermo Tofoni, CEO of World Eleven, told the AP in a telephone interview, adding that there is still a chance the South American rivals will play, but not with Full Play's involvement.

"We are still trying to make sure the game happens between the two teams somewhere in the United States," he said. "It just wouldn't be called the Superclassic, because that belongs to Full Play."

Another sports marketing company involved in the Superclassic of the Americas was Rio de Janeiro-based Klefer, which after the FIFA scandal broke was forced to turn over documents to Brazilian authorities related to its contract with the local football confederation for marketing rights linked to a domestic football championship.

Klefer, which has denied any wrongdoing, also wouldn't be involved in the new friendly, Tofoni said.

Last year, the Superclassic was played in Beijing. The game did not happen in 2013 as the teams prepared for the World Cup, and previously it was played a in two-match series, with one game in each country.

"We are waiting for an answer from the Brazilian football confederation," Tofoni said. "Argentina wants to play, but it depends on Brazil. Hopefully we will hear from them by the end of the week."

The Brazilian confederation said the friendly was never officially announced, so it could not comment on its cancellation. It said it was still uncertain whether Brazil would play another national team on the FIFA date originally scheduled for the Superclassic against Argentina. It said the team could end up using the time just to practice.

The Argentine football federation recently said it also could not officially confirm the cancellation of the Superclassic against Brazil, although a source who asked not to be named because an announcement has not been made, said the game was "virtually canceled."

Both nations already have friendlies scheduled in the United States on Sept. 8. Argentina will play Mexico in Dallas and Brazil is set to face the United States in Boston, Tofoni said.

"There is no reason the teams shouldn't play, they will be in the United States already," he added.

Argentina is coming off a runner-up finish against host Chile in the Copa America, while Brazil was eliminated by Paraguay in the tournament's quarterfinals.

South American qualifying for the 2018 World Cup begins in October.