Uruguay's Figueredo admits to accepting bribes in soccer probe: trial lawyer

Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:51pm EST
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MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Former head of South America's CONMEBOL soccer body Eugenio Figueredo has admitted he received bribes from television firms in exchange for maintaining media rights, a lawyer involved in the case in Uruguay said on Saturday.

CONMEBOL, an influential grouping that includes traditional soccer powers such as Brazil and Argentina, is heavily embroiled in a worldwide soccer corruption probe led by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Figueredo arrived back to his native Uruguay on Thursday after being extradited on corruption charges from Switzerland, where he was arrested in May.

On Friday, the 83-year-old former vice-president of world soccer federation FIFA was moved to hospital from prison due to chest pain.

Pablo Barreiro, the lawyer representing Uruguay's footballers' union which laid corruption charges against Figueredo in 2013, said he had admitted that the heads of South America's various football associations received important sums of money in exchange for the media rights to tournaments.

"This is the flow of money that the prosecutor ... understands constituted money laundering and essentially fraud," Barreiro said.

Figueredo's own lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Of 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives indicted in the United States in May on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150 million in payments, eight were from South America.

They included two former CONMEBOL presidents, Figueredo and Nicolas Leoz, as well as the Venezuelan federation president Rafael Esquivel, the former head of the Brazilian confederation and three Argentine and one Brazilian executives.

(Reporting by Matias Larramendi; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Former FIFA official Eugenio Figueredo arrives to court in Montevideo after being extradited from Switzerland to Uruguay, December 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Andres Stapff