Football: Figueredo bribes paid 'for decades' - prosecutor

Figueredo (centre) is escorted as he arrives at court in Montevideo on Dec 24, 2015.
Figueredo (centre) is escorted as he arrives at court in Montevideo on Dec 24, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

MONTEVIDEO (AFP) - Former Fifa vice-president Eugenio Figueredo received millions of dollars in bribes throughout his career at the top of South American football, prosecutors claimed 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 one of seven top Fifa officials arrested at a Zurich luxury hotel in May, a raid that kicked off an unprecedented crisis at world football's governing body.

The United States, which led the investigation, is also seeking to extradite Figueredo on charges of soliciting multi-million-dollar bribes from sports marketing firms.

Figueredo had agreed to be sent to Uruguay but is fighting extradition to the United States.

He 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 organisation banned disgraced president Sepp Blatter from football for eight years over ethics violations.