Ex FIFA Official And Head Of BeIN Media Accused Of World Cup Related Bribery

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Three officials accused in the widespread FIFA corruption scandal have gone on trial in New York City, faced with charges of bribery, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

Former South American Football Confederation President and ex-FIFA vice-president Juan Angel Napout, ex-Brazilian Football Confederation head Jose Maria Marin and former Peruvian Football Federation President Manuel Burga are standing trial at the US District Court in Brooklyn.

The trio are the only former officials to have been extradited to the United States and have plead not guilty.

Assistant United States attorney Keith Edelman told jurors they would be shown evidence from more than 20 years of the officials taking money meant to promote sport.

"These defendants cheated the sport in order to benefit themselves," he said, according to the Guardian.

"[They] did it year after year, tournament after tournament, bribe after bribe."

US prosecutors accuse the defendants of participating in schemes involving more than $200 million (£152 million/€173 million) in bribes and kickbacks, both sought and received by officials for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.

This includes the major South American tournaments, the Copa América and the Copa Libertadores, as well as the Brazilian domestic tournament Copa do Brasil.

The defendants claim they have been falsely accused, alleging the US Government have relied on the testimony of other FIFA officials, who have cooperated with authorities to reduce their own sentences.

They claim that while there was corruption at FIFA, they were not part of it.

The trial is expected to last weeks if not months, with prosecutors expected to present 350,000 pages of evidence and dozens of witnesses.

The worst counts against them carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

The worst charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail, if the officials are found guilty ©Getty Images
The worst charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail, if the officials are found guilty ©Getty Images

Of the 42 individual defendants, 24 have cut deals with prosecutors, hoping for lighter sentences in exchange for cooperation.

Two were sentenced last month - Guatemalan official Héctor Trujillo to eight months, and Costas Takkas to 15 months, 10 of which he has already served.

The other 22 await sentencing, and are led by disgraced former FIFA vice-president and ex- Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football head Jeffrey Webb, who admitted to receiving more than $6 million (£4.5 million/€5 million) in bribes.

The final 15 defendants remain in their home countries, either charged or being tried for similar crimes, or fighting extradition to the US, including Trinidad and Tobago's Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice-president.

Last month, Judge Pamela Chen granted a request from prosecutors to have an anonymous jury at the trial after they claimed they might be influenced by the media coverage and scrutiny surrounding the case.

Prosecutors argued that it raises the risk that if the jurors' identities are made public in such a closely-watched case, it could impair their ability to act impartially during the trial.

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Source : https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1057893/three-former-officials-appear-in-court-as-fifa-corruption-trial-begins

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