ASUNCION (Reuters) - Paraguayan Alejandro Dominguez was elected president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) on Tuesday and immediately vowed to revamp an organization decimated over the last year by the arrest of its top officials.
“This crisis is the deepest that Conmebol has ever had to face,” Dominguez said after being elected unanimously with all 10 votes.
”The irregular, inadequate and immoral ways of the organization in our continent demands that we take exemplary decisions.
“I know there can be no more bad practices in our commercial deals. No more corrupt and unacceptable (practices), no more benefits to individual interests over football.”
Dominguez takes over from interim president Wilmar Valdez, who replaced Juan Angel Napout in December after he was arrested in Zurich as part of the crackdown on football corruption.
Dominguez, 44, was also elected a FIFA vice president and Argentine Luis Segura was elected as CONMEBOL’s representative on FIFA’s Executive Committee.
”The big commitment is to restore CONMEBOL’s credibility,” Dominguez told reporters. “We want to get back to the essence of football, it’s values and fair play.”
Three of CONMEBOL’s last four elected presidents have come from landlocked Paraguay and Dominguez will seek to bring stability to the organization after months of turmoil involving arrests and resignations.
South America is home to both Brazil and Argentina, who have won the World Cup seven times between them and produced great players such as Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
But the Americas has also been the main focus of the investigation by United States and Swiss prosecutors into schemes designed to receive millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to sell media and marketing rights for soccer tournaments and matches.
Officials from all 10 members of CONMEBOL have been indicted and the last three presidents of both CONMEBOL and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football region have also been detained.
Before Napout was arrested in December, Nicolas Leoz, who ran the organization from 1986 until 2013, was detained last May, as was his successor Enrique Figueiredo.
The Paraguayan parliament last year stripped CONMEBOL headquarters of its diplomatic status and its offices were raided by Paraguayan police in January after U.S. officials asked for help in their investigations. Bribery is only a crime in Paraguay if government officials are involved.
Writing by Andrew Downie, Editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar