NEW YORK – A former South American soccer official convicted on corruption charges in the sprawling FIFA bribery scandal was sentenced in federal court to four years in prison on Wednesday.
Jose Maria Marin, a former president of Brazil’s soccer federation, also was ordered to forfeit $3.3 million and pay a $1.2 million fine in connection with his participation in a scheme to accept bribes in exchange for the media and marketing rights to various soccer tournaments, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“His crime was one of pure, unmitigated and unchecked greed,” said Judge Pamela Chen, who said she wanted “to send a message of deterrence” in her sentence and described Marin as a rich man who could easily have said no to receiving bribes.
The government had asked for 10 years in prison for him. The defense had sought the approximately 13 months he has already served, citing the 86-year-old’s advanced age and poor health.
Before his sentencing in Brooklyn federal court, Marin told the judge that soccer had been his great love but that now it was his downfall.
“I regret if any person or entity has been harmed by my actions”, Marin said, before chocking up. “I am a man with no future. My main worry is my wife.”
More than 40 people and entities in the world of global soccer were charged in the U.S. in connection with an investigation that uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Of those, 24 pleaded guilty. The former president of Peru’s soccer federation, Manuel Burga, was acquitted in December.
“Marin, like his co-conspirators, sold out the sport he was meant to serve to satisfy his own greed,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “Today’s sentence shows that for all their power and prestige, the soccer officials who corrupted ‘the beautiful game’ are not above the law.”