Venezuela's soccer president was hospitalized after being detained by the Nicolás Maduro regime

Jesús Berardinelli definitively took office when his predecessor, Laureano González, announced his resignation on March 11 (Instagram: @fvf_Oficial)
Jesús Berardinelli definitively took office when his predecessor, Laureano González, announced his resignation on March 11 (Instagram: @fvf_Oficial)

This Wednesday, the managers of the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) They issued a statement to clarify the situation that the president of the organization is going through, Jesus Berardinelli, who on Monday was detained by security forces, but whose situation had never been made official by any entity, for which several rumors had been triggered during these days.

"He is hospitalized in the Clinicas Caracas medical center, after a syncope that he suffered with symptoms of low respiratory failure ”, so he will be“ intubated ”and“ taken to intensive care”Notes the document that reports that the leader was decompensated after being transferred by the Bolivarian national police to Caracas.

The 61-year-old man was in the Criminal Investigations Department of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB), in the capital, where he had been transferred. after being "held by alleged authorities on Monday July 20 of the current year in the city of San Felipe, Yaracuy state" (west), according to the FVF. His "alleged arrest", as the federation crossed out, came about on charges of simulating punishable acts, forging a public document, embezzlement, and defamation of the former coach of the Venezuelan soccer team, Rafael Dudamel, according to an order from capture published by the local newspapers Líder and Últimas Noticias, and confirmed by the AFP with a judicial source.

In the statement released this Wednesday, the executives supported Berardinelli: "We reiterate our determined support and solidarity in these adverse circumstances." At the same time, they demanded that the Nicolás Madruo regime comply with the law and be allowed to defend itself in a fair trial: "We invoke the National Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in order to comply with the relevant constitutional and legal procedures."

Jesús Berardinelli's arrest was made on Monday (Reuters)
Jesús Berardinelli's arrest was made on Monday (Reuters)

The Venezuelan Comptroller had ordered last Friday to freeze the bank accounts of the boss of Venezuelan football, as part of an investigation into alleged irregularities in the management of state funds granted to that institution. "In order to protect resources granted by the State to the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF)," Comptroller Elvis Amoroso asked the Superintendency of the Banking Sector "to suspend bank transactions related to the citizen Jesús Miguel Berardinelli Lezama", pointed out a message from the control body on social networks.

"It is not an action against the federation, it is a particular action against Berardinelli"Amoroso declared in a telephone communication with the AFP after that measure. The official added at the time that those who have recently made transactions with the 61-year-old sports leader, who denies having handled state funds, would also be investigated.

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The order to freeze bank accounts stems from an investigation by alleged irregularities with funds for "the development of FVF sports activities" that "they were not used for this purpose," added the Comptroller.

The day after the freezing of his accounts, Berardinelli defended himself in statements quoted by the news portal The universal: "The Venezuelan Football Federation has never received money from the national government ”. There, the leader explained that in the midst of a serious economic crisis that has limited the options of ‘sponsors’, the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has been the main sponsor of the federation in recent times. Beyond sponsorship, "we have never received money from the State," he also declared to the AFP Berardinelli, accusing PDVSA of having made its last payment in 2017.

The communiqué of the directors of the FVF
The communiqué of the directors of the FVF

For his part, Amoroso had expressed that the investigations were focused on funds from PDVSA, state banks and the Ministry of Sports. However, he never specified how much the amounts amount despite being questioned about it, although the note released by his office speaks of "millions of dollars."

The FVF, in a statement last week, had already warned that the situation “put at risk the principle of government non-interference in football organizations" The measure was also described in the document as a "dirty campaign".

After assuming functions as interim president of the FVF as first vice president of the institution, Jesús Berardinelli definitively took office when his predecessor, Laureano González, announced his resignation on March 11. The next local federation elections are scheduled for March 2021, but the pandemic of the new coronavirus have questioned them and could be delayed, according to sources consulted by the AFP.

The crisis coincides with moments in which the Venezuelan team awaits the debut of the Portuguese José Peseiro as coach, once the South American qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup can be played, whose start has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The former wine technician, Rafael Dudamel, resigned last January, closing a cycle that began in April 2016, arguing that his relationship with the leadership "was deteriorating rapidly."

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With information from AFP

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