South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL looks to clean its image by choosing a new president Tuesday, as three of its former heads face US indictments in the FIFA corruption scandal.
After being searched this month by investigators probing alleged bribes, CONMEBOL’s headquarters in Paraguay now hosts football chiefs from 10 countries who will choose a new leader and decide who to back for FIFA president.
Senior figures said there was a consensus to elect as new CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez, a 44-year-old businessman and current head of Paraguay’s football federation.
The South American bloc is meanwhile expected to back Swiss-Italian Gianno Infantino to succeed the suspended Joseph Blatter as president of world football’s governing body FIFA.
The South American Football Confederation’s last president Miguel Angel Napout, also a Paraguayan, was one of 16 Latin American officials indicted by US authorities last month.
Among the others were another Paraguayan former CONMEBOL head, Nicolas Leoz, 87, and its Uruguayan ex-president Eugenio Figueredo, 83.
Leoz is under house arrest in Paraguay and Figueredo is in jail in Uruguay.
Both face requests for extradition on allegations of bribery and money-laundering by US authorities which are investigating the scandal.
Napout is under house arrest in New York.
The suspects are accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes in return for awarding broadcasting and commercial contracts for football tournaments.
The scandal over allegations of multimillion-dollar bribes has led to the suspension of numerous top officials including Blatter, FIFA’s longtime president.
– ‘Transparency’ in football –
CONMEBOL’s interim president, Wilmar Valdez of Uruguay, said there was a consensus to elect Dominguez as president.
Valdez himself stepped out of the running at the last minute, saying a consensus was needed to launch a new cleaner era for CONMEBOL.
“There must be a before and an after with all that has happened,” he said.
He called for “the implementation of transparency and oversight measures that guarantee the efficient and rigorous administration” of CONMEBOL.
The confederation is the umbrella group for 10 South American football associations.
Its headquarters had diplomatic immunity from 1992 but that privilege was withdrawn last year after the scandal erupted.
Another CONMEBOL source told AFP the body would back Infantino when FIFA chooses a new president in Zurich on February 26.
The acting head of European federation UEFA, Infantino also has the support of UEFA’s executive committee.
He faces competition in his run for the FIFA presidency from Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, who has the likely backing of African countries for his bid.
Another FIFA candidate is Prince Ali of Jordan, who like Infantino will be present at the CONMEBOL congress on Tuesday. It is due to start at 1300 GMT.
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