Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Former FIFA VP, Head of CONMEBOL Sentenced to Nine Years in Corruption Probe

Juan Ángel Napout was the president of South American soccer's governing body, CONMEBOL, and a FIFA Vice President when he was arrested and indicted on racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering charges in 2015. Those charges stemmed from a massive Justice Department investigation into fraud and corruption in FIFA, the association that governs world soccer.

Napout was ultimately convicted of one count of conspiratorial racketeering and two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, all relating to schemes to accept millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for the media and marketing rights to various soccer tournaments. Now, the former head of the Paraguayan Football Association is facing nine years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Greed and a Deep-Rooted Culture of Corruption

"Napout's conviction, as well as the successful prosecution of other high-level soccer officials, has struck at the core of corruption in soccer and underscores the need for continued vigilance against fraud and bribery in the sport," said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue in a statement. "For years, Napout fed his greed, joining and furthering a rampant and deep-rooted culture of corruption in the sport," Donoghue claimed. "Napout rose to the highest ranks of soccer, holding FIFA executive positions and running a powerful continental confederation, only to turn his back on the institutions and people he was entrusted to serve."

Napout was convicted of corrupting the FIFA's enterprise of commercializing media and marketing rights for soccer events and tournaments by offering and receiving of tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks paid by sports marketing companies in exchange for the media and marketing rights to CONMEBOL-sponsored games and World Cup qualifying matches played in Paraguay.

Napout In Jail

Along with nine years behind bars, in the United States, the court ordered Napout to pay $3,374,025.88 in restitution for bribes received and imposed a fine of another $1 million. A total of 18 individuals (and two corporations) were indicted as part of the DOOJ's FIFA corruption case. Fourteen have pleaded guilty already, and José Maria Marin, Former President of the Brazilian Football Confederation and former Governor of São Paulo, was also convicted on racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering charges and sentenced to four years in prison.

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