Chile head turns witness in FIFA case

Chile's top football official Sergio Jadue resigned Wednesday after abruptly leaving the country, reportedly to go into witness protection in the United States to co-operate with a probe into alleged bribery within FIFA.

Jadue, head of the Chilean National Football Association (ANFP) and a vice-president of South American regional body Conmebol, flew to the United States on Tuesday night with his family.

Surrounded by police at Santiago Airport, a visibly shaken Jadue told reporters he was going on holiday for a few months to rest and spend time with his family.

But the newspaper El Mercurio cited sources in the football association saying he was going to be a "protected witness" of the US courts as authorities probe the corruption scandal that has struck world football's governing body.

Another newspaper, La Tercera, also citing ANFP sources, said Jadue was going to "collaborate with the investigation being carried out by the FBI".

Hours after the reports emerged, the Chilean association announced Jadue had resigned.

His interim replacement, Jaime Baeza, said Jadue had failed to give satisfactory answers last Thursday when summoned to an "urgent and extraordinary meeting" with the association's board of directors to answer questions about his role in the alleged bribery being investigated in the United States.

"Since Mr Jadue did not respond or clear up the concerns put to him, he was asked to step aside for the good of the Chilean football industry," Baeza said.

Jadue took sick leave last week after the meeting, but said he would not step down from his post despite being linked to bribery investigations.

He left on Tuesday night while the Chilean national team was in Uruguay playing a World Cup qualifier.

South American officials are suspected of corruption in deals to award television rights for the Copa America tournament.

The sprawling scandal has engulfed FIFA's president Sepp Blatter, who has been suspended.

Jadue and other ANFP officials also face an investigation in Chile into alleged illegal salary payments to members of the association.