March 8, 2014
Grondona reelected as AFA president amid scandal
FIFA senior vice-president Julio Grondona has been unanimously re-elected president of the Argentine Football Association for the ninth consecutive time despite fraud and money-laundering allegations lodged.
The 80-year-old Grondona was the only candidate ahead of the 46-0 vote by Argentine clubs, which extends his rule to 36 years. “In 32 years here, we have met our responsibilities. I hope that in the future nothing changes,” Grondona said as the assembly began.
His re-election to a ninth four-year term comes despite a fraud complaint by business rival Carlos Ávila, who accuses Grondona of hiding 30 million dollars in Swiss bank accounts.
Ávila used to run Tournaments and Competitions (TyC) and sold the cable television rights to Argentine soccer to Clarín Group. The voting proceeded despite attempts to block it in court by Daniel Vila, Rivadavia of Mendoza president who said he wants to bring transparency to the league.
Soccer is now for free on state television through the “football for everyone” programme in place since President Cristina Fernández encouraged Grondona to break the cable contract in 2009.
Ávila’s lawyer, Mariano Cuneo Libarona, said he filed the fraud and money-laundering complaint on August 10 and provided all the evidence to an investigative judge. But the allegations only became public knowledge on Monday night when Libarona repeated the accusations on América channel, which is owned by Grondona rival Daniel Vila, president of the Independiente de Mendoza club.
Grondona responded yesterday by suing Avila and Vila for extortion, conspiracy and threats, and then Vila also went to court, persuading a judge to order AFA to let him join the voting or suspend the meeting. AFA did neither, shutting Vila out and proceeding with Grondona’s re-election.
“We need to make Argentina transparent again,” Vila told the C5N channel after Grondona’s victory, saying that thousands of club presidents across Argentina, and not just a select few, should be allowed to participate in choosing their leader. He then left quickly as other club presidents and soccer fans loyal to Grondona shouted him down.
On Vila’s television channel, the attorney 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 totalling about 30 million dollars. He claimed the money represented the corruption that permeates football and politics, and speculated that it has not been declared to Argentine tax authorities.
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.