KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Uruguay’s scandal-hit football federation has been taken over by a normalisation panel send in by world federation FIFA and South American governing body CONMEBOL.

The chaos could hardly come at a worse time for the AUF when it is trying to build credibility for a 2030 World Cup hosting bid in partnership with neighbours Argentina and Paraguay.

Trouble erupted in late July within weeks of the end of the World Cup at which the national team reached the quarter-finals. Four days before AUF elections president Wilmar Valdez pulled out after revelations in a tape recordings of talks over a lucrative security cameras contract for the Estadio Centenario.

Further recordings suggested illicit payments had been discussed concerning contracts for other club stadia.

Documents revealed by the Uruguayan media showed that the Ministry of the Interior, whose deputy minister is Jorge Vázquez, brother of the state president, played a leading role in deciding on the contract provider.

Initially the Ministry said it offered only ‘advice’ on the equipment. However later Vazquez said that the lower of the two tenders submitted was unacceptable.

The Uruguayan federation postponed the elections and has been in a state of chaos ever since, hence FIFA’s decision to move in – as if did two years ago in Argentina.

Statement of intent

A FIFA statement said:

The Bureau of the FIFA Council decided on 21 August 2018 to appoint a normalisation committee for the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) in accordance with art. 14 par. 1(a) and art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes. This decision follows the latest developments in the situation of the AUF, particularly the fact that the electoral process for the position of AUF President is not in accordance with the requirements of transparency as outlined in the FIFA and CONMEBOL statutes.

The mandate of the normalisation committee will end on 28 February 2019 and includes the following tasks:

– To run the AUF’s daily affairs;

– To review the AUF statutes and ensure their compliance and amendment in line with the requirements of FIFA’s and CONMEBOL’s statutes, and;

– Once the AUF statutes meet the requirements of FIFA’s and COMEBOL’s statutes, to organise and conduct elections of a new AUF executive committee on the basis of the new, revised AUF statutes.

Edgar Welker, interim president of the AUF, was unhappy with the intervention.

He blamed CONMEBOL for sending “erroneous” information to FIFA. Legal director Alejandro Balbi said the AUF would seek direct talks with FIFA president Gianni Infantino to pursue a “reconsideration” of the decision.

FIFA is particularly concerned about the situation because Uruguay is due to host the Women’s U-17 World Cup in late November and December.

** Prosecutors in Colombia have opened an inquiry into the illicit sale of tickets for a World Cup qualifying tie against Brazil. FIFA’s ethics committee is also studying the role of Ramón Jesurun, president of the Colombian federation and a member of the governing FIFA Council.