GUAYAQUIL: South American tax chiefs have suggested that football in the continent has been governed by a criminal cartel rather than a sports organisation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Senior officials from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru met in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to share information and adopt a common front about progressing action arising out of the revelations of the FIFAGate scandal investigation run by the United States Department of Justice.

Paraguay’s Hernan Galeano offered all assistance possible to assist his opposite numbers in other countries out of particular concern that the headquarters of the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL, is in Asuncion and thus comes under his jurisdiction.

He said: “We are investigating four companies linked to what is happening and have seized evidence which we will share and release as soon as possible. This reflects our belief that the the entire continent is unanimous in condemnation of these practices that have damaged the image of football.”

After the meeting Galo Chiriboga, Ecuador’s Attorney-General, noted on his Twitter account that senior local football officials Luis Chiriboga Acosta [FEF president, no relation], Francisco Acosta [FEF secretary-general] and Vinicio Luna [general manager] had been charged back in December with “the crime of money laundering.”

US invitation

Galo Chiriboga added: “With great regret I have to say that the debate we have had with our fellow prosecutors has come to the presumption that these are not sports organisations but criminal organisations.

“We invited the US authorities to send a representative but were informed that, because of the delicate state of the investigation and for other juridical reasons, this was not possible. However they left the door open for a further exchange of information.

“Our concern is to ensure that all these situations do not remain unpunished because football attracts millions of people in each of our countries and we believe it is the duty of the prosecutors to bring all the results of our research before our judges.

“We have had important proposals from Argentina and Brazil, to create a group of researchers working together to solve these cases using all legal means.”

The prosecutors will all ask the US DoJ for further information regarding concerns about football corruption in their respective countries.

Ivan Montellano, chief prosecutor of Bolivia, said that criminal action was already under way which demonstrated “the existence of a probable international criminal organisation.”