Jose Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil’s soccer federation, was sentenced to four years in prison by a federal court on Wednesday in New York, marking the first sentencing of a soccer official in relation to the United States’ FIFA corruption investigation.
“His crime was one of pure, unmitigated and unchecked greed,” Judge Pamela Chen said, according to the Associated Press. Chen also said she wanted “to send a message of deterrence” with her sentence, adding that Marin was wealthy enough to have no need to take the bribes.
Marin and Paraguay’s Juan Angel Napout were both convicted in December after a bizarre trial that included the testimony of a Jonas Brother. Napout, the former boss of CONMEBOL, is still awaiting sentencing. A third figure in the case, Peru’s Manuel Burga, was acquitted of charges in December.
In addition to the prison sentence, Marin must forfeit $3.3 million as well as pay a $1.2 million fine. The 86-year-old was convicted for his role accepting bribes for media and marketing rights to soccer tournaments such as Copa America. Marin was one of seven officials arrested during a raid of a hotel in Zurich in 2015.
The four-year sentence was a compromise between the U.S. government prosecuting the case, which asked for 10 years, and the defense, which asked for the 13 months time served because Marin is so old. Of course, by that logic, if you commit murder when you’re 110 you could just ask for leniency because you’re about to die anyway.
The U.S. government charged 40 people and entities involved with FIFA in its investigation, 26 of whom pleaded guilty.
“Marin, like his co-conspirators, sold out the sport he was meant to serve to satisfy his own greed,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “Today’s sentence shows that for all their power and prestige, the soccer officials who corrupted ‘the beautiful game’ are not above the law.”
One would like to hope this is a strong message that will prevent further FIFA corruption. But considering the word "corruption" is no longer in FIFA's code of ethics, there will probably be more fraud to clean up in the years to come.