By Tom Degun in Guadalajara

Orlando Silva_in_front_of_Brazil_2014_logoOctober 26 - Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva today resigned from his post following the serious corruption allegations that emerged against him earlier this month.

The allegations came from influential Brazilian magazine Veja who claimed that he aimed to embezzle around $23 million (£15 million/€17 million) for himself and his Communist party over eight years by awarding fraudulent Government contracts for a number of projects, including one that promotes sport for poor children.

The Sports Minister had rushed back to Brazil from the Pan American Games here last week to defend himself against the claims but he has now decided to step down from his high-ranking job although he maintains his innocence.

"I submitted my resignation," said Silva following a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

"I decided to leave the Government so that I can defend my honour."

Silva's resignation comes less than 24 hours after the country's Supreme Federal Court confirmed that it has opened a formal investigation into the allegations which effectively made his position untenable.

A spokesperson from the office of the President said: "After that Supreme Court decision, Orlando was a Minister who was already on his way out."

The saga is the latest corruption scandal in Rousseff's short reign as President because since she came to power in January this year, four senior Ministers have resigned or been sacked after being accused of illegal activity.

Silvia, who has been relentlessly hounded by the Brazilian media since the accusations emerged, is now the fifth Minister to be added to the list.

But he is arguably the most high profile due to the fact that he is the Government lead on both the FIFA 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games which will be the two biggest international sporting events in the history of the continent.

Silva has been involved in both global sporting events since their infancy after being named Sports Minister by popular former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva back in 2006.

He was also the only Minister from Brazil's Communist Party to maintain his position when Rousseff's Coalition Party came to power at the beginning of the year largely due to his heavy involvement and knowledge of the 2014 and 2016 projects.

Silva's resignation could have catastrophic repercussions for the two events, particularly the 2014 World Cup which has already been heavily criticised by FIFA for being well behind schedule.

Rousseff is now expected to allow the Communist Party to nominate a replacement for Silva from its own ranks.

Government sources suggest the most likely nominee is Senator Aldo Rebelo, a former Minister of Institutional Relations, who has been a vocal critic of corruption in Brazilian football

However, Rousseff may appoint a substitute on an interim basis before deciding on a permanent replacement.

Rebelo's appointment could raise tensions over the World Cup organisation because he has strongly criticised the head of Brazil's football confederation Ricardo Teixeira, who is being currently being investigated by Federal Police over another series of corruption allegations.

The controversial Teixeira also leads the Brazilian Organising Committee for the 2014 World Cup and is a member of FIFA's ruling Executive Committee.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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