By Andrew Warshaw
September 13 – Thirteen months after being sentenced to nine years in jail for his role in the FifaGate corruption scandal, former South American strongman Juan Angel Napout (pictured) has finally been banned for life.
Napout, at one time the head of both Conmebol and the Paraguayan FA, was found guilty by a New York court in August last year and received the longest sentence of any of those accused in the scandal that brought FIFA to its knees.
US justice authorities also ordered him to return the $3.3 million in bribes received but it took FIFA more than a year to kick Napout out for good and slap him with a CHF1 million fine.
FIFA said its ethics committee judges found Napout, who reportedly sometimes moved illicit cash by dispatching his personal driver on 15-hour trips, guilty of bribery between 2012 and 2015 though it is unclear how the fine can be enforced.
Napout, one of the biggest scalps in the widespread US probe, was also a FIFA vice president at the time he was arrested in December 2015, seven months after the infamous initial dawn raid at the same Baur au Lac hotel where the original so-called ‘Zurich Seven’ were detained.
His crimes related to pocketing millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for media and marketing rights to various football tournaments.
Napout portrayed himself publicly as one of the good guys in favour of reform but his public persona as a man of generous good character was a far cry from with his hidden life spent enriching himself from a sport he professed to love.
By the time he was arrested in Switzerland, he had accumulated well over $3 million in exchange for his support of marketing contracts for the Copa América, Copa Libertadores and World Cup qualifying tournaments, and had agreed to receive more than $20 million more, prosecutors said in court papers.
After Napout’s hearing, US Attorney Richard Donoghue said that he “rose to the highest ranks of soccer only to turn his back on the institutions and people he was entrusted to serve.”
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