Prosecutor: Figueredo received bribes ‘for decades’

Former FIFA vice-president Eugenio Figueredo received millions of dollars in bribes throughout his career at the top of South American football, prosecutors claimed on Friday.

Eugenio Figueredo was head of the Uruguayan Football Association from 1997 to 2006 and became CONMEBOL president in 2013.   -  REUTERS

Former FIFA vice-president Eugenio Figueredo received millions of dollars in bribes throughout his career at the top of South American football, prosecutors claimed on Friday.

Figueredo, 83, was extradited from Switzerland and spent Christmas in jail pending a trial which could see him imprisoned for up to 15 years.

Prosecutor Juan Gomez said that evidence given by Figueredo showed clearly that the official was corrupted from the moment he joined the executive committee of CONMEBOL, the South American federation.

“From the time he became a member of the executive committee, he received huge sums of money from plans hatched by various members of CONMEBOL with the objective of maintaining a twisted form of corruption,” said Gomez in his initial report.

As president, the Uruguayan looked to distribute the money via “a network of corruption that hit South American football with impunity and persisted for decades”.

Gomez's report said the system made it impossible for contractors to tender for marketing and television rights for football tournaments organised by CONMEBOL.

“These actions caused harm to clubs and professional players in Uruguay, notably reducing the sums they could have received,” added Gomez, who in December 2013 received a complaint from the Uruguayan footballers union over the actions of several officials, including Figueredo.

Figueredo was head of the Uruguayan Football Association from 1997 to 2006 and became CONMEBOL president in 2013. CONMEBOL's last three presidents have all been arrested in the scandal, plunging the South American confederation into crisis.

At FIFA, the spiralling scandal took a dramatic new turn last week when the organization banned disgraced president Sepp Blatter from football for eight years over ethics violations.