Several Uruguayan international players used their social media channels to share a letter in support to FIFA's decision to take temporary control of the country's soccer federation because of governance concerns. The letter, tweeted out by team stars such as Luis Suarez and Diego Godin, says it would bring transparency, democracy and plurality to the federation, known as the AUF.
FIFA officials said it decided on Tuesday to appoint a normalization committee'' that will run the AUF until Feb. 28, 2019. The country is campaigning with Argentina and Paraguay to host the 2030 World Cup.
The intervention follows the AUF's president, Wilmar Valdez, quitting a day before he was to stand for re-election last month. The vote was put on hold.
CONMEBOL, the main South American soccer body, says there is a lack of assurances'' in AUF's electoral process. FIFA says the electoral process is not in accordance with the requirements of transparency as outlined in the FIFA and CONMEBOL statutes.''
FIFA and CONMEBOL stressed the normalization committee'' will run the daily business of the association, adapt AUF's statutes to international standards and organize its elections. The FIFA request for AUF to adapt the new statutes has been repeatedly delayed for several years despite the insistence from the world footbal ruling federation.
Marcelo de Leon, the president of Uruguay's referee association, told radio Sport that the intervention was requested by his colleagues, professional footballers and players of the national team. They asked for a corruption probe to examine decisions made by the AUF over the last 20 years.
In contrast, Uruguay's government said FIFA has no right to intervene in the association.
”There cannot be an international body intervening in a national body,'' Education and Culture Minister Maria Julia Munoz said at a news conference. She said it is her ministry's role to oversee whether private entities like AUF act in accordance with their own statutes or not.
Uruguay stepped up its campaign to host the World Cup in South America in 2030 by holding events in Moscow during this year's tournament. FIFA has yet to outline the formal bidding process for the 2030 World Cup.
The postponement of the AUF vote came amid a corruption probe that has caused commotion in Uruguay. Authorities are investigating whether there are recordings of Valdez discussing bribes to soccer executives and government officials during the purchase of lighting and security cameras for Uruguay's stadiums, partly financed with FIFA funds.
The 53-year-old Valdez became the AUF's president in 2014 after his predecessor Sebastian Bauza resigned. Valdez' temporary substitute is Edgar Welker, who accused FIFA of making the decision based on imprecise information given by CONMEBOL, the Uruguayan Football Association said.
AUF is expected to decide soon whether it will extend the contract of coach Oscar Tabarez, who has led the national team for 12 years, taking it to three straight World Cups. He also lifted the 2011 Copa America for the Celeste.
Tabarez is not expected to be on the bench on Sept. 7 when Uruguay faces Mexico in Houston.