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FIFAGATE: Marin and Napout heading for jail after guilty verdicts

ose Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian football confederation attends a press conference to announce the proposed host cities for football matches for the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo: Getty Images)
by Keir Radnedge, AIPS Football Commission Chairman

LONDON, December 23, 2017 - Millionaire South American football supremos Jose Maria Marin and Juan Angel Napout have both been taken into custody in New York after having been found guilty of corruption offences by a jury after a five-week trial.

The jury returned verdicts after four days' deliberation and then continued sitting to consider the case of Manuel Burga.

All three men had denied charges relating to multi-million bribery skimmed off media rights for South America's Copa America and Copa Libertadores as well as the Copa Brasil.

Marin was president of the Brazilian confederation during the country's hosting of the World Cup in 2014 while Napout was a former head of both the Paraguayan federation and the South American governing body CONMEBOL.

Napout was a former head of both the Paraguayan federation and the South American governing body CONMEBOL during the World Cup in Brazil 2014.

Napout was detained by the Swiss authorities in Zurich in December 2015; Marin had been arrested five months earlier, in the May, along with six other senior world football executives at the Baur au Lac hotel on the eve of FIFA Congress.

Judge Patricia Chen indicated that jail sentences were certain for the two men who have been on house arrest and ordered their immediate detention in custody, noting they had every reason to flee after hearing the verdicts.

The jury will reconvene after Christmas to make a decision in the racketeering charge against Burga who was a former head of the Peruvian federation.

Marin, who is also a former governor of São Paulo, was found guilty of six of the seven counts against him of money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy. Napout was found guilty of three charges - one of racketeering conspiracy and two wire fraud charges.

Last month, Argentinian media executive Jorge Delhon killed himself after being accused of taking $2m in bribes as part of the trial.

The so-called FIFAGate investigation by the US Justice Department erupted into the public domain in May 2015 and led to the indictment of more than 40 individuals and companies and concerned around $200m in bribes in football in north, south and central America and the Caribbean.

In October the former head of Guatemala's federation, Hector Trujillo, became the first person to be sentenced as part of the investigation. He was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy.

Costas Takkas, a British citizen who was a former general secretary of the Cayman Islands FA and aide to former FIFA vice-president Jeff Webb, was sentenced subsequently to 15 months in prison.

FIFA, commenting on the verdicts, said: "As the US Department of Justice has again recognised during the trial, FIFA is a victim of the alleged wrongdoing that has been at issue in the trial.

"FIFA strongly supports and encourages the US authorities’ efforts to hold accountable those individuals who abused their positions and corrupted international football for their own personal benefit.

"As the jury has found a number of defendants guilty of the charged crimes, FIFA will now take all necessary steps to seek restitution and recover any losses caused by their misconduct."

The world federation has lodged a multi-million dollar claims for restitution against all the indicted individuals.

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