Prosecutors urge conviction in FIFA trial

Thursday, December 14, 2017


NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — US prosecutors urged a New York jury to convict three wealthy South American former football officials “on all counts” in the face of “overwhelming” evidence, delivering closing arguments yesterday at the FIFA corruption trial.

“The three defendants thought the payouts would last forever, but they won't,” Assistant US Attorney Kristin Mace told the federal court in Brooklyn, a day after the defendants declined to take the stand in their own defence.

“They got caught. And it's time that they are held accountable. The evidence is overwhelming,” Mace added, urging the jury to declare the trio “guilty on all counts”.

The defendants are Josť Maria Marin, ex-head of Brazil's Football Confederation; former FIFA Vice-President Juan Angel Napout, who was elected president of CONMEBOL in 2014; and Manuel Burga, who led soccer in Peru until 2014.

They are charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.

Mace said they were blinded by greed into accepting a combined total of $21.45 million in bribes — Napout $10.5 million, Marin $6.55 million and Burga $4.4 million — in exchange for bestowing television and marketing rights for football matches.

Marin's elegantly dressed wife began to pray in the gallery, her eyes moistening and her hands clutching a rosary as she heard the accusations against her husband.

If convicted, the defendants risk up to 20 years behind bars for the most serious offenses.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations this week.