PtG Article 01.09.2014

World volleyball president gave profitable contracts to family members

The Brazilian authorities are now investigating the current FIVB President Ary Graça’s activities in his 17 years as head of Brazilian volleyball. ESPN has proven that Graça made secret contracts with family members and volleyball associates.

The Brazilian President of the Féderation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), Ary Graça, has come under renewed pressure after the Brazilian state auditors CGU (Controladoria-Geral da União) have decided to launch an investigation into the way Graça administered his position as President of the Brazilian Volleyball Confederation (CBV) from 1997-2014.

Graça was forced to retire formally from his Brazilian presidency earlier this year when ESPN Brasil revealed that he had made two secret and ill-founded contracts worth four million USD each with front companies owned by close associates in the volleyball federation.

Recently, ESPN Brasil and its reporter Lúcio Castro found new evidence that Ary Graça made contracts with his family members in secret and single-handed decisions involving no others in the CBV.

According to ESPN Brasil, Graça chose a new company in 2010 to produce an annual 80,000 sponsor t-shirts to be handed out to audiences at indoor and beach volleyball tournaments. The company, Acquatic Confeccão do Artigos do Vestuário Ltda, had been established only a few months before by Bruno Freiere Moreira, a son-in-law of Ary Graça. The contract has run to this date.

Another son-in-law, Bruno Beloch, is a co-owner of the company LG Video that owns the rights to produce internet broadcasts from CBV’s events. The same company also acquired similar rights for events run by the South American Volleyball Confederation (CSV) whose president was also Ary Graça.

LG Video was lucky enough also to receive a contract from the Brazilian Water Sport Confederation for the same kind of internet services. In a very particular construction, the responsibility of overseeing the financial transaction of Brazilian swimmers was delegated by the Ministry of Sport to: the CBV and Ary Graça.

The ministry explains to ESPN Brasil that they do sometimes contractually delegate their financial monitoring of one sports federation to another federation to obtain “a growth in the network of social control”.

Contracts were not acceptable

This practice was, however, brought to a halt last year, and apparently the Ministry of Sport has had enough of Ary Graça and the CBV. Of the 42 million Reais (around 17 million USD) granted by the government to the CBV in 2013 only 2.5 million Reais was paid out.

The CBV has received no official explanation for this huge loss of revenue, but in an unusually open statement at a press conference, the vice-president of Brazilian volleyball Neuri Barbieri, admitted that the contracts made by the man who is today the head of world volleyball were not acceptable:

“We have an ethical problem with these contracts because they were not public. They were not known by the presidents of the state federations (from Brazilian province states, ed.). There is also a question if you can make business with someone who theoretically is already working for you, so it is complicated,” Neuri said to the news site with reference to the contracts made with close allies – contracts that have finally been torn apart by the new CBV leadership.

One of the beneficiaries of the cancelled four million dollar contracts, Fabio Azevedo, has already found a new way to make a living. Ary Graça has employed him as the General Director of the FIVB in Lausanne.

The FIVB has not made any comments to the affairs that have been raised over the past six months and now are recognised and investigated by Brazilian volleyball itself and by the Ministry of Sport

If none of the more than 200 member countries of the FIVB asks questions, Ary Graça can continue the leadership style he has practiced in Brazil, but now with the whole world as his arena. This opens new business opportunities for Graça personally, his family and friends.

Neuri Barbieri explains why things went astray in Brazil:

“We had good results with the national teams and therefore we trusted the management of Ary Graça who had a centralized style. The federations were left out.”