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S. America football confed lost $140 mn to graft

Santiago (AFP) – The head of South American football confederation CONMEBOL said Wednesday the body lost more than $140 million to graft under former managers indicted in a US corruption investigation.

Between 2010 and 2014 “CONMEBOL was defrauded of more than $140 million,” its president Alejandro Dominguez told AFP after unveiling the findings of an external audit at the confederation’s congress.

South American football officials have been heavily implicated in the US-led investigation into corruption in world football which led to the downfall of FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2015.

Dominguez of Paraguay was appointed to root out graft in CONMEBOL after investigations indicated officials had pocketed millions of dollars in bribes for awarding sponsorship and marketing contracts.

Three former presidents of CONMEBOL — Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay and two Paraguayans, Nicolas Leoz and Juan Angel Napout — have been indicted in the US investigation, accused of accepting bribes.

Figueredo and Leoz are under house arrest pending investigations. They are among some 40 international officials detained in the so-called “Fifagate” scandal.

The audit released on Wednesday details “suspect operations recorded in the 2010 to 2014 period under the managements of Nicolas Leoz and Eugenio Figueredo.”

The transactions “represent institutional diversion of funds for personal gain,” the report says.

Wednesday’s CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital Santiago was attended by FIFA chief Gianni Infantino, who took over the organization following Blatter’s resignation.

“There have been some complicated, very difficult times (in football), but it’s all over. Now we have to concentrate on the future, we have to show we are transparent,” Infantino said.

“I must congratulate the new CONMEBOL on its new spirit and new way of working.”

After taking over as the head of CONMEBOL last year, Dominguez oversaw changes including a separation of political functions and day-to-day management and term limits for officials. 

He also limited the length of contracts between CONMEBOL and its sponsors.

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