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Monday 19 August 2019

Fifa's Brazil boss pleads not guilty in New York court

Jose Maria Marin, centre, leaves court in Brooklyn, New York (AP)
Jose Maria Marin, centre, leaves court in Brooklyn, New York (AP)

The man behind the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has pleaded not guilty to US charges stemming from the sprawling bribery case that has scandalised the football world.

Jose Maria Marin, 83, appeared in a Brooklyn federal court following his extradition from Switzerland, where he was arrested in May along with five other Fifa officials in a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich.

A judge agreed to release him on 15 million dollars' bail (£9.7m) and allow him to live with tight restrictions in a £2.2m New York apartment until his case is resolved.

A haggard-looking Marin, who listened to the proceedings through an interpreter, slumped in a chair while lawyers remained standing in front of the bench discussing his bail conditions. He later rose for a long embrace with his wife, who was required to sign the bond.

The couple left the court without speaking to reporters. Marin's lawyer, Charles Stillman, said he and his client would be "preparing to deal with the charges".

In July, another high-ranking Fifa official, Cayman Islands banker Jeffrey Webb, appeared in the court to enter a not-guilty plea and was released on 10 million dollars' bail. The five remaining defendants in Switzerland are fighting extradition.

The Fifa officials are among 14 people named in a US indictment saying they plotted to arrange bribes of more than 150 million dollars (£97.4m) tied to the award of broadcasting and hosting rights for the World Cup and other tournaments over a 24-year period.

Marin was appointed to head the 2014 World Cup local organising committee after the resignation of Ricardo Teixeira, who was implicated in a previous Fifa scandal for taking million-dollar bribes from World Cup broadcasting deals.

He also succeeded Teixeira, a long-time Fifa executive committee member, as president of Brazilian football's governing body in 2012. He held that position until last April.

Brazil was humiliated in a semi-final of the 32-nation World Cup, losing 7-1 to Germany. Germany went on to beat Argentina 1-0 after extra time in the final.

PA Media

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