First US trial opens in Federation Internationale de Football Association corruption probe

FIFA Trial Set to Begin in NY With the Trappings of a Mob Case

FIFA Trial Set to Begin in NY With the Trappings of a Mob Case

Edelman said the USA government would present evidence, derived from witness testimony, bank records, covert recordings and other documentation that proves each of the officials had received bribes.

U.S. prosecutors first announced the indictments on May 27, 2015, lifting the lid on a quarter of a century of endemic corruption in the heart of Federation Internationale de Football Association, soccer's governing body.

"These defendants cheated the sport in order to line their own pockets. and they did it year after year, tournament after tournament, bribe after bribe", Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Edelman said in opening statements in federal court in Brooklyn.

They were at the St Regis Hotel in Florida to launch the 2016 centenary edition of the Copa America, which would be staged in the United States for the first time.

Separately, prosecutors said in court filings, unnamed co-conspirators were shelling out about $1 million a year in bribes to Marin from the firm vying for sponsorship of the Copa do Brasil tournament from 2013 to 2022. "There are drinks, press conferences but beneath the surface are lies, greed, corruption", he said. "Some of these officials had other reasons to celebrate, they had agreed to receive millions of dollars in bribes regarding the tournament".

"They've made a lot of righteous charges against a lot of bad people".

The case is being heard at Brooklyn's federal court amid tight security. Recordings appear to corroborate prosecutors' case against him.

The government plans to call three co-operating witnesses who will give evidence in return for lighter sentences.

The case is the first to go to trial since the scandal emerged more than two years ago.

Sepp Blatter, president for 17 years, and other officials were ousted as the full scale of the problem emerged.

However, court documents suggest that previous attempts at reform simply gave more people a chance to get rich.

"Rather than fix the harm done to the sport and its institutions, however, these conspirators engaged in the same unlawful practices that had enriched their predecessors", it says.

The most high-profile defendant is Jose Maria Marin, 85, former president of Brazil's Football Confederation - the sport's organising body in one of the premier soccer-playing nations in the world.

Prosecutors say Napout, 59, and Burga, 60, were among a bloc of powerful soccer officers for CONMEBOL known as the "gang of six" when Burzaco was paying the group annual six-figure bribes in exchange for getting the organization to grant broadcasting rights for the Copa Libertadores to Burzaco's firm.

'It's about time to. have it coming our way, ' he said. He compared him with a player on the sidelines while others took care of business.

"That's it. That's right", Marin said.

"There is a crucial difference", Stillman said, "between being on the field and being in the game".

Mr Napout, from Paraguay, was the president of South America's football governing body Conmebol, as well as heading the national football federation in his country.

In their openings, defense attorneys told jurors that the case against their clients was built on the testimony of shady soccer officials who are seeking leniency in their own criminal cases stemming from the probe.

Burga's attorney Bruce Udolf accused the government of using "too broad a brush" and sweeping up "lower-level people like Manuel under this RICO umbrella".

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