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FIFA defendants blinded by greed: US prosecutors
November 15, 2017
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New York: Blinded by greed into accepting millions of dollars in bribes, or innocent bystanders? Prosecution and defense lawyers opened the FIFA corruption trial on Monday, two and a half years after the US unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer.

The most high-profile defendant is Jose Maria Marin, 85, former president of Brazil’s Football Confederation, who has been living on bail at Trump Tower in Manhattan. His fellow defendants are former FIFA vice-president Juan Angel Napout, 59, from Paraguay and Manuel Burga, who led football in Peru until 2014. All have pleaded not guilty.

They are just a fraction of the 42 officials and marketing executives, not to mention three companies, indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million. Unveiled by then US attorney general Loretta Lynch in May 2015, the charges laid bare a quarter of a century of corruption in the heart of FIFA.

“Lurking underneath the surface are lies, greed and corruption,” assistant attorney Keith Edelman told jurors on Monday, recounting a meeting of officials in Miami in 2014 to celebrate the upcoming 2016 Copa America tournament in the US.

The centerpiece of the trial is the US government’s accusations that the three defendants accepted bribes to bestow advertising and marketing rights for tournament matches, through a complex web of fake contracts, shell companies and wire transfers.

Agence France-Presse

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