LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AFP) – A Swiss court on Thursday reduced the life sentence for Brazilian soccer coach Marco Polo del Nero, who is being investigated by US federal prosecutors in a FIFA bribery case, to 20 years.
Judges at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) confirmed FIFA’s case against Del Nero “based on objective findings,” but reduced his sentence for taking bribes, according to the court.
Del Nero will turn 97 before his ineligibility for participation in football organizations expires in 2038, although according to the media, he still has an influence in the Brazilian Football Confederation that he led.
Del Nero was a member of FIFA’s executive committee when he fled Switzerland in May 2015 after several football executives were arrested in luxury hotels in Zurich in early morning raids requested by US investigators.
Six months after he was indicted, he quit his job at FIFA – from which he earned $300,000 a year – and has remained in Brazil ever since, avoiding extradition to the United States.
The US Attorney’s Office alleges that it took bribes worth millions of dollars in exchange for trade agreements signed for the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores, as well as the Copa de Brazil.
FIFA ethics judges found him guilty in 2018 of bribery, corruption, gift-giving and conflict of interest. He was also fined one million Swiss francs ($1 million).
Del Nero is one of the Brazilian football officials involved in the US investigation and subsequently dismissed by FIFA.
Jose Maria Marin was convicted of financial conspiracy charges in Brooklyn federal court in December 2017 and sentenced to four years in prison.
During the trial, prosecution witness Jose Huila, a Brazilian sports marketing executive, stated that del Nero and Marin were among the top South American football executives who had to bribe to secure media contracts.
Marin, now 89, was released from prison in April 2020 on humanitarian grounds shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
Ricardo Teixeira, who joined FIFA in the 1990s as President Joao Havelange’s son-in-law, also avoided extradition from Brazil after he was indicted in 2015. Teixeira also appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to ban him for life.
Teixeira resigned from his position on the FIFA Executive Committee in 2012 after a World Cup bribery scandal cost Havelange the honorary presidency.
Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
“Reader. Beer practitioner. Web expert. Subtly charming travel geek. Friendly music specialist.”