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Juan Angel Napout resigns as CONMEBOL president

Former CONMEBOL chief Juan Angel Napout was convicted of conspiracy to accept bribes.
Juan Angel Napout was arrested last week in Zurich, Switzerland.

Juan Angel Napout has resigned as president of CONMEBOL, the South American football governing body has announced.

Napout, 56, from Paraguay, was arrested last week in Zurich as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption within football's world governing body FIFA. He was given a provisional 90-day ban by FIFA's ethics committee.

A CONMEBOL statement on Friday night (Saturday morning GMT) read: "With the resignation of Mr Juan Angel Napout as president, the congress was convened for the election of officers [president and vice-presidents] for the 26th of January 2016.

"The acting [presidency] of CONMEBOL shall be exercised by Wilmar Valdez until the date of the aforementioned congress."

Napout faces charges in the United States of bribery and racketeering.

The last three CONMEBOL presidents are under arrest in connection with the growing FIFA corruption scandal: Napout of Paraguay, and former presidents Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.

Vice president Wilmar Valdez of Uruguay presided over Friday's meeting. He is also the head of the Uruguay federation.

"Napout on Thursday sent his resignation by email through his lawyers in Switzerland," Valdez explained. "On Friday we checked to confirm the email and the executive committee accepted it."

South American football's governing body has been hit hard by the growing FIFA corruption scandal.

Valdez is taking over because two other vice presidents -- Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Sergio Jadue of Chile -- are also being held on corruption charges.

Valdez declined to answer questions about legal matters surrounding CONMEBOL's leadership.

Napout was elected as Paraguayan Football Association president in August 2007 and served until 2014, when he took the CONMEBOL presidency initially on an interim basis.

He was elected in March of this year for a full term, scheduled to run until 2019, and was also appointed as a vice-president of FIFA.

Napout and his fellow FIFA vice-president Alfredo Hawit, the president of North and Central American governing body CONCACAF, were among 16 new officials indicted on Dec. 4 as part of a conspiracy accused of corruption offences totalling £130 million.

CONMEBOL vice-presidents Luis Bedoya and Sergio Jadue, the presidents respectively of the Colombian and Chilean football federations, both resigned last month and pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. CONMEBOL general secretary Jose Luis Meiszner is also among those indicted.

The statement on CONMEBOL's website following its executive committee meeting continued: "It has been decided to deepen the implementation of the measures of transparency and control to ensure effective and rigorous management of economic operations and operational processes of CONMEBOL already initiated in this period.

"In this sense Mr. Daniel Elicetche, auditor and internationally recognised consultant, has been appointed independent director of the Internal Audit and Compliance Commission of CONMEBOL.

"It has also approved the integration of the Commission on Legal Affairs, with the participation of all member associations, whose main objective is to propose and study the reform of the statute and regulations of CONMEBOL."

The Associated Press and Press Association contributed to this report.

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