THE BLOG

Will the Return of Coach Dunga Take Brazilian Football Back to the Future?

25/07/2014 16:11 BST | Updated 24/09/2014 10:59 BST

With a congressional investigation hanging over its head, the powerful Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) on Tuesday gave Carlos Dunga a second chance to manage the fading fortunes of the psychologically devastated national team (la seleçao).

Although the arrogant Dunga has a reputation for imparting a sense of mental toughness to his teams and says he supports the "German system" of player development, the Machiavellian ways of the CBF might make him a better candidate for double jeopardy than coach.

Named by then-CBF president Ricardo Texeira to coach the seleçao in 2006 Dunga had no previous coaching experience. He was abruptly fired by Teixeira after Brazil got knocked out in the quarter finals of the FIFA 2010 World Cup by Holland.

Now he's back and the fans don't like it.

An online poll by Estadao indicates that 80 percent of the fans who participated in the survey objected to the choice. Coverage in the mass circulation daily O Globo has also been critical of the decision. After his selection was leaked to every major media outlet in Brazil he chided the press by saying "I haven't heard anything."

The CBF operates as a state within a state in Brazil and Dunga's talent for keeping the sports pundits and investigative reporters at bay could let the confederation continue to do so.

But ex-teammate Romario, who starred alongside Dunga on the national team that won the FIFA 1994 World Cup in the United States, has other ideas.

Now a powerful Federal Deputy, Romario is calling for the reopening of a congressional investigation of the CBF and is demanding its incoming president, Marco Polo Del Nero, president of the Sao Paulo state football federation and a protégé of current CBF boss 82-year old Fernando Marin, step down so that a more open election can be held.

Marin and Del Nero were part of the inner circle of longtime CBF president Ricardo Texeira who resigned in late 2012 to avoid facing ethics and corruption charges.

The final report of FIFA's independent ethics panel investigating corruption in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar will be released soon FIFA says it won't be made public. The collateral effects of the probe, conducted by former U.S. Attorney General Michael Garcia, are likely to leak out and could touch former CBF officials, giving Romario and other Brazilian politicos fresh ammunition to rein in the organization.

Carlos Dunga is just one part of the CBF makeover that started with the sacking of coach Luiz Felipe "Big Phil" Scolari. Technical director, Carlos Alberto Parreira, who coached Brazil to victory in the 1994 FIFA World Cup that featured Dunga and Romario, also moved on.

In a process that is starting to resemble a game of musical chairs, Gilmar Rinaldi, an important FIFA-licensed agent and longtime Dunga cronie, was named to replace Parreira. As the second man in the CBF coaching triumverate, Rinaldi, in theory, is in charge of selecting the right players for Dunga to coach. He was a replacement goalkeeper on the victorious 1994 FIFA World Cup team captained by Dunga.

The wild card in the makeover is the third man, the current CBF Under-20 team coach, Alexandre Gallo.

Billed as one of the "new generation of Brazilian coaches," the 47-year old Gallo is just three years younger than CBF fixture Dunga.

Unlike Dunga, Gallo came to the CBF with a successful coaching background. He has coached numerous first division sides in Brazil and managed teams in Japan and Qatar. He was recently promoted to the position of national technical coordindator of the CBF youth system. It will be Gallo, not Dunga, who coaches the national team in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

As the third coach of the national team in three years Dunga is walking into a revolving door situation. After the 24-year drought (1970-1994) ended - during which Brazil failed to win a FIFA World Cup - neither winning coach Parreira (1994) nor Scolari (2002) was rehired to coach the national team.

When the spin about the CBF makeover wears off FIFA football in Brazil will continue its traditional role of developing players at home and exporting them for big money to deep pocketed teams in England's Premier League, La Liga and the rest of Europe, Qatar, Japan and elsewhere.

Most of the players on Brazil's 2014 FIFA World Cup team coached by Scolari played on teams outside Brazil.

FIFA president Joseph "Sepp" Blatter has said on numerous occasions that national teams with the fewest number of players contracted to clubs outside their homelands are more competitive and have the best chance of winning the World Cup. Regardless of what his detractors say, the 82 year old FIFA boss was proven right in South Africa, and in now Brazil.

Winners of the past two tournaments, Spain and Germany, featured sides with a handful of players who play outside their homelands. The teams played together for years working under coaches who are media friendly and adept at implementing the long term strategies developed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation and the Deutsche Fussball Bund.

No English or continental European stars play in Brazil's "Serie A" (first division) league. No top flight European coaches manage teams in Brazil.

It's okay for Scolari (Portugal) and Parreira (South Africa) to manage national teams in foreign countries. But when the name of Spain's Pep Guardiola came up last year as a possible candidate for the coaching job of la seleçao the idea created a nationalist backlash throughout Brazil.

If Gallo wins the Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 with an innovative technical scheme and a crop of younger players who show a renewed passion for the beautiful game it could be musical chairs again with Dunga as the last man standing.