January 23 – Marco Polo del Nero has maintained his total innocence of bribery and corruption laid against him by the United States Justice Department’s FIFAGate inquiry in a cross examination by FIFA’s ethics investigation.
Defiant to the last? Del Nero has denied any wrongdoing to a FIFA’s ethics investigation when questioned about evidence that surfaced during the trial of Jose Maria Marin in New York. Marin is Del Nero’s presidential predecessor. Last December the 76-year-old president of the Brazilian Football Confederation CBF was suspended for 90 days pending the outcome of a FIFA ethics investigation.
Both supremos of Brazilian football were indicted in the DoJ’s investigation, but Marin was arrested and detained in Zurich in May 2015. Del Nero took the next flight home to Rio de Janeiro, not waiting to attend the FIFA Congress. He has since not left Brazil out of fear of extradition to the United States, not even travelling with the Brazilian national team. Brazilian citizens are protracted by their constitution from extradition.
Last Friday Del Nero refused to travel to Zurich to face the FIFA ethics panel in person. He defended himself via video link, with the support of two lawyers. Brazilian media reported that he maintained his innocence during the five-and-a-half-hour hearing. His 90-day suspension expires on March 14, but the FIFA Ethics Committee has the option of expending it for another 45 days if their investigation remains incomplete.
In the United States, he would face charges including money laundering and bribery in connection with the award of broadcast and marketing rights of South American international competitions. Marin was found guilty and is expected to be sentenced in April, but he has demanded that the verdict be annulled or for a new trial, according to Brazilian media reports.
He is insisting that he should be acquitted, even though he was found guilty of six crimes. The 85-year-old’s lawyers argue that because the prosecutor didn’t offer sufficient proof of Marin’s involvement in bribery, there is little ground for a criminal conviction.
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