Fifa’s Grondona likely to be re-elected AFA president

2011-10-18 14:28

Buenos Aires – Fifa senior vice-president Julio Grondona was expected to be re-elected president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) today despite fraud and money laundering allegations lodged by a business rival who accused him of hiding $30 million (R242 million) in Swiss bank accounts.

The 80-year-old Grondona was the only candidate ahead of the vote by Argentine clubs, which would extend his rule to 36 years.

His expected re-election to a ninth four-year term comes despite a fraud complaint by Carlos Avila, who used to run Tournaments and Competitions, a subsidiary of the Grupo Clarin media group that owned the rights to Argentine football on cable television.

Argentines now get football for free on state television through the “football for everyone” programme since President Cristina Fernandez encouraged Grondona to break the cable contract.

Avila’s lawyer, Mariano Cuneo Libarona, said he filed the fraud and money laundering complaint on August 10 before an investigative judge. But the allegations only became public knowledge yesterday night when Libarona repeated the accusations on “Show de Football”, a programme on Canal America, which is owned by Grondona rival Daniel Vila.

Vila also owns a football team in Mendoza, Argentina. Neither he nor another Grondona rival received enough support from fellow club owners to challenge Grondona for the presidency.

Libarona showed records that he said represent the balances of Swiss bank accounts in the names of Grondona, his family members and his close associates totaling about $30 million.

The show also broadcast fragments of a meeting with Grondona that was secretly recorded by a hidden camera, in which Grondona talks about sending motorcycle messengers with “black money” to cable television companies, and makes an apparent death threat against the show’s producer and reporter.

“I can kill them. I’m going to kill them,” Grondona was recorded as saying. It’s unclear when the recording was made.

Grondona’s lawyer, Francisco Castex, called the programme an absurd attempt to defame his client. “This has a common denominator, who is Daniel Vila, who has dedicated himself in recent months to attacking and defaming Julio Grondona through his various communication media,” Castex told Radio Rivadavia yesterday night.

“In the programme of America I saw a few papers that I have no idea who created or if they came from a bank. The same with the videos – what is notable is that they are edited and taken out of context.”

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