Prosecutors pushing for conviction in FIFA trial

Updated 14 December 2017
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Prosecutors pushing for conviction in FIFA trial

NEW YORK: 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 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 defense.
“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 Jose 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.
But while the defense admits widespread corruption at FIFA, it insists there is no evidence that their clients were paid bribes with jurors expected to begin deliberations with the trial already into a fifth week.
“There was not one penny that they could trace to Juan, not one single transfer,” Napout’s lawyer John Pappalardo said Wednesday.
“There’s no evidence. All they have is theories,” he said. “Those theories are not enough.”
Burga’s lawyer Bruce Udolf trode a similar line. “Burga never got any money at all,” he said. “He didn’t get a dime. The government went too far in this case.”
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.
Mace said the defendants 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 ­matches.
She showed the court bank records, company documents and reminded jurors of testimony from throughout the trial, which comes two and a half years after the United States unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world football.
“This is a unique look inside a broad and powerful internal conspiracy,” said Mace.
“A conspiracy to enrich the soccer elite of the world, bribe after bribe, year after year at the expense of the organization they were supposed to serve.”
But the defendants are just three of the 42 officials and marketing executives, not to mention three companies, indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.
If convicted, they risk up to 20 years behind bars for the most serious offenses.


The world's eyes are on Mohamed Salah as hopeful Egypt take on Russia

Updated 19 June 2018
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The world's eyes are on Mohamed Salah as hopeful Egypt take on Russia

  • Egypt are counting on the return of Mohamed Salah on Tuesday as they face Russia
  • The Liverpool wizard missed his team’s 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday

SAINT PETERSBURG: Egypt are counting on the return of Mohamed Salah on Tuesday as they try to salvage their World Cup against a Russian side who know a win could seal a place in the last 16.
Liverpool wizard Salah missed his team’s 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday as he struggles to recover from the shoulder injury he sustained during last month’s Champions League Final.
Salah’s shoulder has continued to cause him problems in Russia, and at the weekend he needed the help of three team-mates to put a shirt on during a training session in Grozny.
Egypt’s Argentine coach Hector Cuper said on Monday Salah was fit to play but will undergo a test before kick-off in Saint Petersburg.
“I hope he will be fit to play, I’m sure he will be able to play. He is a central piece in our team,” Cuper said.
If Egypt lose, it will likely end their competitive involvement in their first World Cup since 1990, so 96 million Egyptians are willing him to be on the pitch.
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov was bullish that his team can rein in the explosive striker, who scored 44 goals in a remarkable debut season at Liverpool.
“We know how to play against him,” he said. “We are ready to stop Salah and we will.”
Russia got their World Cup off to the perfect start on Thursday with a 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia, but are under no illusions that the seven-time African champions pose a far tougher test — providing Salah plays.
“Egypt’s game with Salah is different from the one they play without him,” forward Alexei Miranchuk said.