FAO foray into Uruguayan football market scores own goal

Talent scout: Rodrigo Lubetkin

ROME — As the Trump administration mulls U.S. spending on FAO, its director general José Graziano da Silva may have difficulty explaining to the new American Ambassador why the UN agency is paying a Uruguayan football club employing the son of his Uruguayan chef de cabinet and why that club manager sought to hire the son of ex Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, the former boss of his father’s boss, diplomatic sources say.

 Latin American media reported last year that the modest Uruguayan club Juventud de Las Piers was hiring as a coach Luis Cláudio da Silva, the youngest son of former president Lula. After trumpeting the hiring of Luís Cláudio on its official website, the club suddenly retreated. The president of the club, Yamandú Costa, said there was a "communication problem.” 

 "We never reported the hiring of mr. Luís Claudio. We only publicize the visit he made to our facilities, “ Brazil’s Veja magazine quoted Costa claiming http://veja.abril.com.br/esporte/clube-uruguaio-desiste-de-contratar-fil....  Uruguayan officlals evidently persuaded the club to backtrack as the hiring seemed like a step toward his father the former Brazilian president seeking refuge in Uruguay from his indictment for alleged corruption in his homeland.

 The football club receives funding from the FAO as part of a program by the Rome-based agency to combat youth unemployment, a scheme that seems far from the FAO mandate to combat hunger and famine. Even with the FAO subsidies the club could not afford to pay the youngest son of Lula’s request for a salary of 25,000 reals, Veja said.

 It was no coincidence that the club should try to hire the Lula scion given that Graziano was a minister in the Lula da Silva government. Nor is it evidently a coincidence that the manager of Juventud is none other than Rodrigo Lubetkin, son of the FAO’s Uruguayan chef de cabinet Mario Lubetkin, the former head of the IPS news agency who had a meteoric career at FAO. Rodrigo previously cut his teeth as a soccer talent scout in the tough Rome football world.

 Rodrigo met Lula’s son at a symposium in São Paulo and set the hiring in motion but from the start he seemed to be over qualified for the modest team which In 2014/2015 managed to qualify for the South American Cup, but only lasted four games before being eliminated, sports pundits said.

 Meanwhile the Uruguayan president,Tabare Vazquez, in a recent interview dutifully said he would give political asylum to Brazilian politicians such as Lula and Roussel if requested.


 Against this background Graziano is waiting to see the outcome of the inquiry in Peru into alleged massive money laundering by former Peruvian first lady Nadine Heredia, another crony of the Lula clique through the Brazilian multinational Oderbrecht, who Graziano unwisely offered a top job as head of the FAO liaison office in Geneva last year.

 Mario Lubetkin meantime has confided to friends that his defamation case against the Italian Insider newspaper for allegedly defaming his image is "going nowhere." Graziano is due to testify at the trial of Insider's chief editor April 12 while Lubetkin has demanded the Rome Tribunal award him not less than 100,000 euros in civil damages. The Insider stands by its reporting.

IPS Director General Mario Lubetkin (L) presents IPS International Achievement Award 2008 to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Punching below his weight? Luis Claudio da Silva