September 15, 2015 / 10:35 AM / 4 years ago

Troubled South American confederation approves reform plan

Juan Angel Napout, president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) speaks before the draw of the 2015 Copa Sudamericana tournament at the CONMEBOL headquarters in Luque, on the outskirts of Asuncion July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

ASUNCION (Reuters) - South America’s troubled soccer confederation CONMEBOL has approved a reform plan after it was caught up in the corruption scandal that has swept the sport and plunged governing body FIFA into crisis.

CONMEBOL said its executive committee had approved a “comprehensive review of the management model and the organizational structure”. Ernst & Young had been called in to implement the reforms and the audit firm started work at the confederation’s headquarters in Asuncion, Paraguay on Monday.

CONMEBOL, an influential grouping that includes traditional soccer powers like Brazil and Argentina, is heavily embroiled in the corruption probe led by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

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, Eugenio Figueredo and Nicolas Leoz, plus the Venezuelan federation president Rafael Esquivel, the former head of the Brazilian confederation and three Argentine and one Brazilian executives.

Figueredo and Esquivel, still being held in a Swiss prison pending extradition proceedings after they were arrested in Zurich on the eve of a FIFA Congress, were both CONMEBOL executive committee members at the time.

The core charges in the case focus on the alleged payment of bribes to secure commercial and broadcasting contracts for major tournaments in the Americas.

In June, Paraguay’s Congress approved a measure withdrawing immunity from the CONMEBOL’s headquarters. The building, on a 40-hectare site near Asuncion’s airport, had enjoyed immunity from search since it was opened in 1997.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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