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International

Former FIFA Official Has Bribery Life Ban Cut to 20 Years

September 2, 2021

LAUSANNE, Switzerland  — A Brazilian soccer official indicted by federal prosecutors in the United States in the FIFA bribery case has had his life ban from the sport cut to 20 years.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed FIFA's case against Marco Polo del Nero “as to the findings on the merits” but ordered a reduced ban for taking bribes.

Del Nero will turn 97 before the ban expires in 2038, though the former president of the Brazilian soccer confederation reportedly still has influence on his former organization.

Del Nero was on the FIFA executive committee when he fled Switzerland in May 2015 in the fallout of soccer officials being arrested at luxury hotels in Zurich in early morning raids. He was formally indicted six months later, resigned his $300,000-a-year FIFA position and has since stayed in Brazil, where he has avoided being extradited to the United States.

American prosecutors have accused him of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from commercial deals signed for South American soccer competitions, including the Copa America and Copa Libertadores.

FIFA found him guilty in 2018 on charges of bribery and corruption, accepting gifts and conflict of interest. He was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1.1 million), a decision upheld by CAS.

Del Nero is among several Brazilian soccer leaders indicted in the American investigation and later banned by FIFA. Jose Maria Marin was convicted on financial conspiracy charges in December 2017 and sentenced to four years.

During the trial, prosecution witness Jose Hawilla, an influential Brazilian sports marketing executive, testified that Del Nero and Marin were among top South American soccer officials who had to be bribed to secure media contracts.

Marin, now 89, was released from prison in April 2020 on compassionate grounds soon after the coronavirus pandemic was declared.

Ricardo Teixeira, who joined FIFA in the 1990s and was the son-in-law of then-president Joao Havelange, has also avoided being extradited from Brazil since being indicted in 2015. Teixeira has also challenged his FIFA life ban at CAS.

Teixeira resigned from the FIFA executive committee in 2012 in fallout from a World Cup kickbacks scandal that also removed Havelange as honorary president.

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