New York (AFP) – A US court on Monday dismissed appeals by two former leaders of Latin American football who were convicted over their roles at the heart of the “Fifagate” corruption scandal.
Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout, former president of Conmebol, was sentenced in 2017 to nine years in prison on racketeering and wire fraud charges in connection with awarding television and marketing rights of major events in exchange for kickbacks.
It was the longest sentence of any of the accused in the “Fifagate” scandal that rocked world football’s governing body.
Jose Maria Marin, former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, 88, was serving a four-year prison sentence for accepting millions of dollars in bribes until he was released from jail on humanitarian grounds in March.
Napout — head of Conmebol (the South American Football Confederation) between 2014 and 2015 — was denied early release in April, with the judge citing the risk of him fleeing house arrest.
The appeals court ruling issued in New York said the two men claimed the convictions were “impermissible” as the incidents took place outside the United States.
But the court concluded “the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to affirm the district court’s judgment of conviction.”
Marin was the first major football official found guilty and sent to prison in the United States as part of the “Fifagate” scandal.
In August 2018, a New York jury found him guilty of accepting $6.6 million in bribes — along with his deputy, Marco Polo del Nero — in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments.
The $200 million bribery scandal led to the arrests of dozens of soccer executives — many of them Latin American — and culminated in the downfall of FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.
The US government has accused some 45 people and several sports companies of wrongdoing. A total of 26 have pleaded guilty, and at least six have been sentenced.
In early June, Amazon released a series on the FIFA scandal titled “El Presidente.”