FIFA bribery trial kicks off

By Daily Sports on November 14, 2017

Views: 964

Three South American former soccer officials were blinded by greed and accepted millions of dollars in bribes, US prosecutors told the FIFA corruption trial Monday as defense lawyers insisted their wealthy clients were innocent.

Forty-two officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.

It was the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer, first unveiled by US government prosecutors in May 2015 and lifting the lid on a quarter of a century of endemic corruption in the heart of FIFA, soccer’s governing body.

Yet only three of them are going on trial — a trio of once-powerful soccer officials from South America, charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.

Their fate will be decided by an anonymous jury, chosen after documented attempts at intimidation. The 12-member panel with six alternates was selected after four days of screening last week.

“Lurking underneath the surface are lies, greed and corruption,” US assistant attorney Keith Edelman told jurors in opening remarks Monday, recounting a meeting of soccer officials from all over the world at a Miami hotel in May 2014.

“Some of these officials had other reasons to celebrate, they had agreed to receive millions of dollars in bribes regarding the (Copa America) tournament,” he told the federal court in Brooklyn, New York. The most high-profile defendant is Jose Maria Marin, 85, former president of Brazil’s Football Confederation — the sport’s organizing body in one of the premier soccer-playing nations in the world.

Since extradition after his 2015 arrest by Swiss police in a five-star hotel, he has been out on bail, living in luxury at Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue skyscraper best known for housing the penthouse and company headquarters of the US president.

Also in the dock is former FIFA vice president Juan Angel Napout, 59, and Manuel Burga, who led soccer in Peru until 2014 and once served as a FIFA development committee member. All three have pleaded not guilty. (Vanguard)

•Photo shows Jose Maria Marin, former Brazil FA president.

Source Daily Sports

Posted November 14, 2017

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