S.America contracts seized in FIFA bribes probe

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Asuncion (AFP)

Paraguayan prosecutors seized contracts signed by South American football chiefs and marketing executives as part of investigations into the corruption scandal rocking FIFA, authorities said Friday.

A 10-hour search by police and prosecutors lasted into the early hours Friday at the offices of the regional football confederation CONMEBOL near the Paraguayan capital Asuncion.

"Numerous documents have been seized, dating from 1991 to 2015," said state prosecutor Hernan Galeano.

"Among them are the contracts between CONMEBOL and the marketing companies for the Copa Libertadores de America and the Copa America."

Those were two of the tournaments in which bribes were allegedly paid for the awarding of commercial contracts.

"All the departments of CONMEBOL were searched, including the offices of the treasury and finance departments, the general secretariat and the presidency," Galeano said.

A lawyer for the confederation, Alfredo Montanaro, called the proceedings "irresponsible," saying CONMEBOL had been "cooperating" with the probe.

Paraguay's state prosecution service ordered the search on a request by the US Justice Department, which is investigating a vast bribery scandal at FIFA, football's world governing body.

CONMEBOL is the umbrella group for 10 South American football associations.

Its headquarters had diplomatic immunity from 1992 but that privilege was withdrawn last year after the scandal erupted.

US authorities last month indicted 16 Latin American football officials accused of accepting bribes for awarding broadcast rights for tournaments.

Five marketing executives were also indicted, including US national Aaron Davidson, former head of Traffic Sports USA.

FIFA meanwhile set up a commission on Friday to reorganize football governance in Honduras.

The former head of the country's football federation, FIFA vice president Alfredo Hawit, is one of the suspects in the scandal.

He was one of nine FIFA officials arrested in dawn raids at a five-star hotel in Zurich last year.

FIFA judicial expert Primo Corvaro said the world body named members of a "normalization committee" to reform the Honduran football organization FENAFUTH.

One of the committee's members, Honduran former player Jaime Villegas, said the aim was "to make FENAFUTH transparent and we are going to fulfill that mandate."

The scandal over allegations of multimillion-dollar bribes has led to the suspension of numerous other top officials including Sepp Blatter, longtime president of FIFA.