Prosecutor: Ex-FIFA officials found guilty after 'downpour' of evidence

There was torrential rain as the gavel came down on two ex-FIFA officials.

As detailed by the Guardian's Oliver Laughland, the first ex-football officials to stand trial following a widespread corruption investigation of the sport's governing body were convicted by a jury in New York on Friday. Juan Angel Napout, former president of CONMEBOL and the Asociacion Paraguaya de Futbol, and Jose Maria Marin, former president of the Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol, were found guilty on most of the charges. The verdict on Manuel Burga, former president of the Federacion Peruana de Futbol, is yet to be reached. He's charged with a single count of racketeering.

Napout was convicted on three of five counts, and Marin was convicted on six of seven counts. Each count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Sam Nitze, an assistant prosecutor, suggested that the evidence against them was overwhelming, and, while summing up, urged the jury to find the three men guilty on charges related to the receipt of bribes.

"In this case it's a downpour," Nitze said. He also dismissed the defence in his closing by declaring: "A couple of people come in and say I'm soaked and the defence says, where's your photograph?"

Napout and Burga were among 16 additional FIFA officials who were indicted for racketeering conspiracy and corruption in December 2015. They were charged with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracies in connection with their participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves by corrupting international football. Marin, meanwhile, was among the nine FIFA officials who were indicted in May 2015, when the corruption scandal engulfing football's governing body started. All three defendants pleaded not guilty.

As written by Laughland, individuals and entities who had already pleaded guilty testified against their former colleagues, and the trial included testimony from 28 witnesses who told the jury about meetings, recordings, ledgers, and bank records implicating Napout, Marin, and Burga.

Prosecutors stated that, between 2010 and 2016, Napout was owed $10.5 million, Marin was owed $6.55 million, and Burga was owed $4.4 million.

Regarding the racketeering conspiracy, most of the schemes alleged in the indictment relate to bribes and kickbacks by football officials from sports marketing executives in connection to various matches and tournaments, including the Copa America Centenario, the Copa America, the Copa Libertadores, and the Copa do Brasil.

Prosecutor: Ex-FIFA officials found guilty after 'downpour' of evidence
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!