By Carlos A. Quiroga
The long tentacles of global corruption in football have reached the last corner: Bolivia.
And in that last corner justice has taken an unimaginable way, putting the local football’s most powerful man, the Bolivian Football Federation President Carlos Chavez, behind bars.
The leader was admitted on Wednesday in Palmasola, one of the most dangerous prisons in Latin America, where he will remain in custody awaiting trial for racketeering, laundering of illicit proceeds, fraud and other crimes.
Chavez was mentioned as one of the South American leaders who reached corruption denounced in FIFA. He went to justice proclaiming his innocence loudly, showing reporters lot of documents which he said prove he did not commit any illegality.
But he was caught with a charge that was apparently forgotten, a friendly football match between Bolivia and Brazil in April 2013 that was touted as charitable in favor of the family of a young fan died in a match of the Libertadores Cup.
The family never received the promised money and Chavez could not provide adequate explanations to the judge.
Chavez’s image handcuffed and escorted by two police officers shows the fall of a powerful, linked to other powerful men as treasurer of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), a position it has curiously been in the hands of Bolivians for more than two decades.
However, even if Chavez ended condemned, the whole structure of Bolivian football, the poorest in South America, could remain unchanged. It is more difficult to predict whether the case will have consequences in the CONMEBOL.
The visit of Pope Francisco put Palmasola at the center of world attention, just 12 days before the arrival of its most controversial resident.