South American soccer body meets: last 3 heads under arrest

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ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — With its last three presidents under arrest in the growing football corruption scandal, the governing body for the game in South America is preparing to appoint a new leader at a meeting on Friday.

The executive committee of CONMEBOL will convene in the Paraguayan capital and turn over the leadership to third vice president Wilmar Valdez of Uruguay.

The current and two former heads of CONMEBOL are under arrest: Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, and former presidents Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.

Napout was arrested last week in in Zurich by Swiss authorities on indictments issued by U.S. authorities. He was charged with racketeering and taking bribes.

Leoz and Figueredo were arrested six months ago on similar charges, and both are fighting extradition to the U.S.

Valdez is taking over because two other vice presidents — Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Sergio Jadue of Chile — are also involved in corruption charges.

Esquivel was indicted six months ago by U.S. authorities, and Jadue has pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

Also pleading guilty was Luis Bedoya, former head of the Colombian federation.

Many of the South Americans have also held positions with FIFA, the disgraced world governing body based in Switzerland.

CONMBEOL has not published an agenda for its meeting, but Valdez told television in Uruguay that his priority "was to keep all the tournaments running and to make sure there are no problems despite the crisis."

On Wednesday, Colombian club Santa Fe de Bogota defeated Huracan of Argentina to win the Copa Sudamericana, the continent's second-most important club tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

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