The 67th CONMEBOL Congress is taking place in Santiago, Chile this week, and the first big news breaking out of it is unsurprisingly about corruption in the South American soccer confederation. According to an audit commissioned by CONMEBOL and carried out by the firm Ernst & Young, former confederation president Nicolas Leoz was found to have moved almost $27 million to his personal account, along with $101.7 million to a multitude of other accounts said to be “third parties without adequate documentation,” “unidentified accounts,” and “suspicious third-parties.”
The Paraguayan was president of CONMEBOL for 27 years, until his resignation in 2013 over “health issues.” He is currently in his home country in order to avoid extradition to the United States stemming from corruption charges filed in 2015.
In fact, the last three presidents of CONMEBOL—Leoz, Eugenio Figueredo, and Juan Ángel Napout—were all involved in the 2015 FIFA corruption controversy, with both Figueredo and Napout being arrested in Switzerland in connection to their posts at the top of the confederation.
This recent audit was ordered by current CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez, who took over from Napout following a unanimous vote in January of 2016. Speaking at the Congress on Wednesday, Dominguez said “We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability. Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”
Corruption in the world of soccer has been a hot-button issue since seven members of FIFA were arrested in Zurich in May 2015; seven others were indicted at later dates. New FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who took over for Sepp Blatter following the long-time president’s removal in late 2015, has made quashing corruption one of his main goals at the helm of the world soccer organization.
Current CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani recently spoke with Remezcla about Infantino’s mission and what his confederation is doing to battle corruption, saying that “we need to lead by example and have the right leadership, because soccer is for the fans, the players and the coaches.”