Grondona elected to ninth term

BY foxsports • October 18, 2011

FIFA senior vice president Julio Grondona has been unanimously re-elected president of the Argentine Football Association 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 Avila, who accuses Grondona of hiding $30 million in Swiss bank accounts.

Avila used to run Tournaments and Competitions and sold the cable television rights to Argentine football to Grupo Clarin, the nation's biggest cable TV provider. The voting proceeded despite attempts block it in court by Daniel Vila, a club president who said he wants to bring transparency to the league.

Argentines now get football for free on state television through the ''football for everyone'' program in place since Argentine President Cristina Fernandez encouraged Grondona to break the cable contract in 2009.

Avila's lawyer, Mariano Cuneo Libarona, said he filed the fraud and money-laundering complaint on Aug. 10 and provided all the evidence to an investigative judge. But the allegations only became public knowledge Monday night when Libarona repeated the accusations on ''Show de Football,'' a television program on Canal America, which is owned by Grondona rival Daniel Vila, president of the Independiente de Mendoza club.

Grondona responded Tuesday by suing Avila and Vila 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 totaling about $30 million. 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.

It's unclear when the recording was made.

Grondona's lawyer, Francisco Castex, called the program 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 Monday night. ''In the program 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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