The FIFA corruption case finally has its first major sentencing

Jose Maria Marin arrives at federal court in Brooklyn. (Getty)
Jose Maria Marin arrives at federal court in Brooklyn. (Getty)

More than three years after U.S. authorities raided a Zurich hotel to arrest high-ranking soccer officials, the beginning of a widespread investigation into corruption within the spot, the FIFA scandal has its first major sentencing.

On Wednesday, former Brazilian soccer president Jose Maria Marin was sentenced to four years in jail by a judge in New York. He was ordered to pay a $1.2 million fine and forfeit $3.3 million.

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Marin, 86, was one of the seven detained in Switzerland on that fateful May morning. Ever since, he had denied a role in the corruption he was accused of. But he was found guilty at trial last December.

On Wednesday, he reportedly broke down in tears during the judge’s preamble, with prosecutors seeking a 10-year sentence. He got off with four.

Marin has already served 13 months in prison. According to his lawyers, via BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensingercould be released after around 28 months on good behavior.

Who is Marin, and what were his crimes?

Marin was accused of accepting over $6.5 million in bribes while in positions of power within FIFA and the CBF, Brazil’s soccer federation.

The bribery concerned media rights to South America’s international tournament, Copa America, and its continental club tournament, Copa Libertadores, plus a Brazilian domestic cup competition.

Marin, with a background in law, was previously a politician. He served as the governor of Sao Paolo in the 1980s. Then he got into soccer politics. He eventually led Brazil’s World Cup organizing committee in the buildup to the 2014 event, and was the federation’s president from 2012 to 2015.

A month after his resignation as CBF president, he was arrested. Later in 2015, he pled not guilty, and was released to a New York apartment on house arrest.

In December, he was convicted, guilty on six counts of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.

What’s next in the FIFA case?

Juan Angel Napout, a former Paraguayan official who was also found guilty last December, is due to be sentenced next Wednesday.

Many other top officials have pled guilty. In total, over three dozen people have been implicated in FIFAGate. It will likely bring more punishments soon as the justice department continues its slow churn.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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