We Got Our First Two Convictions Of Corrupt FIFA Officials

Two South Americans were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy in the FIFA bribery scandal; another man awaits deliberations.

It’s been a long time coming but the first officials have been convicted in a U.S. court stemming from the FIFA bribery scandal that rocked the world's football federation. Jose Maria Marin of Brazil and Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy on Friday, the top charge they faced in the New York federal court. 

A third man, Peru’s Manuel Burga, is awaiting deliberations from the jury, which remains undecided on his single charge of racketeering. He will return to court on Tuesday.

Marin and Napout, however, were immediately sent to jail by U.S. District Judge Pamela Chan. She agreed with prosecutors who argued the pair had the wealth and means to flee the country to avoid prison terms that could end up being more than 10 years. Prosecutors said Napout took $10.5 million in bribes while Marin took $6.6 million and Burga $4.4 million. 

FIFA Bribery Scandal

Jose Maria Marin (middle) was convicted in the FIFA bribery scandal on Friday in New York. Photo: @em_com | Twitter

FIFA said in a statement to the Associated Press: “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 South American trio was arrested in 2015, accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes related to media rights and hosting rights for major FIFA tournaments such as the World Cup and Copa America. More than three dozen others also face similar charges, but many, such as Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobaco and Brazil’s Marco Polo del Nero and Ricardo Teixeira, have avoided extradition. 

The FIFA bribery scandal trial was about as bizarre as you can imagine. Early on there were conspicuous death threats, a suicide and presidential implications. Then Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame was called in to testify for no good reason. During close arguments, Marin’s lawyer essentially tried to claim Marin was too dumb to be involved in the bribes

Sadly, most of the trial is at an end. Hopefully more FIFA officials are arrested and stand trial — we’ll have the popcorn ready.