NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Three former South American soccer officials are going on trial in a U.S. case highlighting widespread corruption in the sport’s governing body.
Jose Maria Marin, Manuel Burga and Juan Angel Napout are the first defendants to be tried in a sprawling investigation that has roiled FIFA since it was announced in 2015.
Opening statements are scheduled Monday in Brooklyn, where investigators say illegal banking transactions related to the scheme took place.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. Their lawyers have characterized the government evidence as weak and misleading.
More than 40 other people have pleaded guilty to participating in a 24-year scheme involving $150 million tied to the awarding of broadcasting and hosting rights.
“The allegations are that it was all about selection – choosing where events would be held, choosing who got the rights to broadcast,” said attorney John Buretta to 60 Minutes. “It was those key choices which were very lucrative to the recipients that created the power here.”
Buretta used to run the organized crime section of the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York with a specialty in the Mafia.
FIFA’s main job is to organize and run the World Cup soccer tournament, next happening mid-summer 2018 in Russia.
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