Paraguayan refs suspended over Grondona graft claims

AFP
Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla officiates a game in Lanus, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 18, 2013 (AFP Photo/Juan Mabromata)

Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla officiates a game in Lanus, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 18, 2013

Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla officiates a game in Lanus, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 18, 2013 (AFP Photo/Juan Mabromata)

Asuncion (AFP) - Three Paraguayan referees were suspended Tuesday after being implicated in a corruption scandal following the emergence of recorded conversations featuring late Argentinian football godfather Julio Grondona.

Carlos Amarilla, Rodney Aquino and Carlos Caceres were suspended by the Paraguayan Football Association (APF) after the release of the Grondona tapes in Argentina on Sunday.

Former FIFA vice-president Grondona, who died in 2014 aged 82, was regarded as one of the most powerful figures in South American football until his death last year.

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However he was repeatedly linked to corruption allegations during his 35-year reign over Argentine football.

Conversations published on Sunday by Canal America TV in Argentina appeared to confirm Grondona's role in corruption, pointing to his involvement in match-fixing, rigging schedules and refereeing appointments.

In one of the recordings, Grondona appears to be discussing a 2013 Copa Libertadores match between Argentine giants Boca Juniors and Brazilian team Corinthians which was overseen by referee Amarilla.

"It turned out well in the end. Nobody wanted this crazy bastard, and the guy who gave Boca the best support it had last year was (referee Carlos) Amarilla," Grondona is heard to say before bursting into laughter.

Paraguyan media linked the comment to the 2013 match, in which Boca defeated Corinthians 1-0 in controversial circumstances, with Amarilla disallowing two goals scored by the beaten Brazilian club.

Grondona was speaking to Abel Gnecco, an Argentine official on the referees committee of South American football's governing body CONMEBOL.

In response to his suspension Tuesday, Amarilla denied any wrongdoing, saying his accusers were "killing football."

"I am surprised by this news, but I am the first to seek clarification," Amarilla said. "Football is a sport where you make mistakes. Referees are humans."

Other Grondona conversations involve Argentine sports marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco, who is currently in Italy facing extradition to the United States after being embroiled in the FIFA corruption scandal.

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