NEW YORK, United States - A US federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Jose Maria Marin, the 86-year-old former head of the Brazilian football federation, to four years in an American prison over the massive FIFA corruption scandal.
Marin was found guilty on December 22 in connection with nearly $6.6 million in bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments like the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.
He was one of seven FIFA officials arrested at a luxury hotel in Zurich on May 27, 2015, and one of only two defendants convicted at trial in the United States in connection with the scandal that disgraced world football.
US Judge Pamela Chen said in Brooklyn federal court that Marin was "a cancer" that corrupted the world's most popular sport, both at home in Brazil and across the planet. "He could have and should have said no," she said at the sentencing hearing.
Marin cried and was very agitated during the proceedings, before calming down. The former president of the Brazilian football federation was convicted on six counts of racketeering, money laundering and bank fraud, and has been awaiting his sentence ever since from behind bars.
US prosecutors had asked Chen to impose a sentence of 10 years in prison and a $6.6 million fine. Citing his age and frail health, his defense attorneys sought a sentence of just 13 months. Marin spent five months in a prison in Switzerland before being extradited to the United States.
He posted bail of $15 million and spent two years living in luxury at Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue skyscraper best known for housing the penthouse and company headquarters of the US president.
“Put the corrupt administrators of Brazilian soccer in jail now!” beg two protestors outside federal court in Brooklyn, where former Brazil ⚽️ president José Maria Marin will be sentenced later today. pic.twitter.com/osOzjwtObs— Ken Bensinger (@kenbensinger) August 22, 2018
US prosecutors lifted the lid on a quarter of a century of endemic corruption in the heart of FIFA, football's governing body, and on the largest graft scandal in the world's most popular sport.
In total, 42 officials and marketing executives, as well as the sports company Traffic, were indicted with corruption crimes totaling more than $200 million. Marin's 2017 trial exposed not only the corruption, but the life of privilege, luxury and excess enjoyed by members of FIFA's executive committee.
Prosecutors detailed a high-flying lifestyle for the sport's bigwigs: personal chauffeurs, private jets, luxury hotels, meetings in idyllic resorts in the Bahamas or Mauritius, and cruises on the Danube for families.
At trial, defense attorneys depicted Marin as an innocent, unsuspecting elderly man that Brazil's football federation tapped out of the blue to fill the vacancy left by the sudden resignation of the powerful Ricardo Texeira. They argued that Marin did nothing without the guidance of his right-hand man, Marco Polo del Nero, with whom prosecutors said he shared bribe payments.
Of the 42 individuals originally indicted in connection with the FIFA scandal, three have since died and 22 have pleaded guilty. Two have been convicted including Marin and one was acquitted. Another 14 remain in their own countries, where they have been tried by local courts, are fighting extradition or are still free.AFP