FIFA Trial: Notable Moments From First 4 Days

FIFA Trial: Notable Moments From First 4 Days


The others about whom he testified on Thursday included the network of the once all-powerful South American soccer officials whose influence extended globally through their roles at FIFA, soccer’s international governing body headquarted in Switzerland.

Among them were Julio Grondona, a top FIFA official and president of Argentina’s soccer association until he died in 2014; Ricardo Teixeira, the longtime president of Brazil’s soccer association until 2012; and Nicolás Leoz, the former president of Paraguay’s soccer association, and South America’s top soccer official until 2013.

All three men, Mr. Burzaco claimed this week, received $1 million bribes in exchange for their votes to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Mr. Burzaco said that Mr. Grondona, with whom he had a close friendship late in Mr. Grondona’s life, had deconstructed the details for him in late 2010, when the officials cast their votes in Switzerland.

The officials had struck a deal as part of what Mr. Grondona had described as a vote-trading agreement between officials from Spain and Portugal and officials from Qatar. The South American officials voted for Spain and Portugal to host the 2018 World Cup — which wound up being awarded to Russia — and for Qatar to host the 2022 competition.

Mr. Leoz and Mr. Teixeira were both charged in the United States’ case in 2015, though they have remained out of the reach of American authorities.

On Thursday, however, a judge in Paraguay approved the United States Justice Department’s request to extradite Mr. Leoz, 89, who has been under house arrest in Asunción, the nation’s capital.

Given Mr. Leoz’s advanced age and health issues, the judge ordered him to be assessed by a medical panel first. Mr. Leoz’s lawyers also said Thursday they planned to appeal the case, emphasizing that the charges against Mr. Leoz, including commercial bribery, were not considered crimes in Paraguay.

Elsewhere in South America, Mr. Burzaco’s testimony this week has also been closely watched, with both individuals and companies implicated. On Tuesday, the Argentine asserted that among the companies that had paid bribes in exchange for television broadcast rights were Fox Sports in the United States, Mediapro in Spain, Televisa in Mexico and Globo in Brazil.

Mr. Burzaco on Tuesday named a former lawyer for the Argentine government, Jorge Delhon, as among the people who had accepted such bribes. According to local news reports in Argentina, hours after he had been implicated in the testimony, Mr. Delhon jumped in front of a train outside of Buenos Aires.

The Argentine government was a further focus of questions by defense lawyers on Thursday, with Mr. Napout’s lawyer asking Mr. Burzaco about emails he had sent seeking to arrange a meeting through Mr. Grondona with the country’s former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, at the request of Hernan Lopez, who was until last year the chief executive of Fox International.

The three defendants facing trial this month in Brooklyn are Mr. Napout; Jose Maria Marin, the former head of Brazil’s soccer association; and Manuel Burga, the former head of Peru’s soccer association.

Mr. Burga, whom Peru extradited in December 2016, this week made multiple apparent threatening gestures across his throat as Mr. Burzaco surveyed the courtroom from the witness stand, unnerving him and prompting his tears on Wednesday. Mr. Burga’s lawyer told the judge on Wednesday his client had simply been scratching his throat.



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