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Vatican suspends charity agreement until FIFA investigation ends

Argentina's Lionel Messi playing in the Copa America (PA)

A charity for young people established by Pope Francis has suspended a donations agreement with a South American football federation, following the corruption scandal that erupted last month within the worldwide football federation, FIFA.

The South American football federation CONMEBOL had pledged to donate $10,000 to the Vatican charity Scholas Occurrentes for every goal scored during the Copa America which began in Chile on June 11.

The federation had signed the agreement in the presence of Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 21.

However, the charity issued a Spanish-language press release on the day the tournament began signed by Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, saying it “will refrain from receiving any funds until the ongoing judicial investigation is clarified”.

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

Venezuelan Rafael Esquivel, who was among the seven FIFA officials arrested on May 27 to face corruption charges in the United States, 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.