December 5 – Former Guatemala football chief and one-time FIFA executive committee member Rafael Salguero (pictured left) will be sentenced by a judge in New York this week in the latest move in the FifaGate scandal.
Salguero pleaded guilty in October 2016 in a closed-door hearing before Judge Pamela Chen, to multiple corruption charges as part of the US government’s sprawling investigation into world football’s governing body.
But a transcript of his plea hearing in a Brooklyn federal court was only released this week.
The redacted transcript, which reportedly showed Salguero has been cooperating with US authorities, states that he told the court he was approached by an individual in 2010 who offered him “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in exchange for his vote at the 2018 World Cup ballot.
The transcript redacts the name of the bid Salguero was told to vote for and the name of another individual, based in Italy, who had offered to provide the cash.
Salguero said he was approached on a flight from Mexico to Guatemala by the individual concerned and that he met with the unnamed person multiple times after their first encounter to discuss the bribe.
Salguero, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money, has reportedly been under house arrest in the United States.
At sentencing on Thursday, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each, but his cooperation with the prosecution should reduce that term. As part of his plea agreement with the prosecution, he has agreed to return $168,000 received in bribes, according to court documents.
The 2018 World Cup was hosted by Russia following a joint ballot with the 2022 tournament which went to Qatar. Both votes were mired in controversy and according to the newly released transcript, Salguero told the court that although he voted for the bid he was told to, he never received the money and did not make a trip to Italy as was suggested.
“About three or four weeks after the vote I tried calling [redacted] at the cell phone number he had given me, but he never picked up or returned the call. I tried to contact [redacted] because I wanted to tell him that I had voted for [redacted] and I wanted to meet [redacted] in Italy to collect this money that [redacted] said [redacted] had for me,” Salguero said, adding that his calls were not returned.
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