Vatican suspends donation agreement until soccer investigation ends

Children play soccer near a statue of St. John Bosco in a courtyard of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Help of Christians in Turin, Italy. The sanctuary was the site of St. Bosco's home for poor and abandoned boys. Pope Francis will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Bosco during his June 21-22 visit to Turin. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Children play soccer near a statue of St. John Bosco in a courtyard of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Help of Christians in Turin, Italy. The sanctuary was the site of St. Bosco’s home for poor and abandoned boys. Pope Francis will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Bosco during his June 21-22 visit to Turin. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Laura Ieraci Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A charity for youth established by Pope Francis has suspended a donations agreement with a South American soccer federation, following the corruption scandal that erupted last month with the worldwide soccer federation, FIFA.

The South American federation CONMEBOL had pledged to donate $10,000 to the Vatican charity Scholas Occurrentes for every goal scored during the America Cup, which began in Chile June 11. The federation had signed the agreement in the presence of Pope Francis at the Vatican April 21.

Scholas Occurrentes was founded to promote social integration of youth through sport and operates under the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which is headed by Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.

The charity issued a Spanish-language press release June 11, signed by Archbishop Sanchez, saying it “will refrain from receiving any funds until the ongoing judicial investigation is clarified.”

Venezuelan Rafael Esquivel, who was among the seven FIFA officials arrested May 27 to face corruption charges in the United States, sat on the CONMEBOL executive and was among those signing the Vatican agreement.

Two former presidents of CONMEBOL, Nicolas Leoz and Eugenio Figueredo, are also among those being investigated by the FBI in the corruption scandal.

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