A US judge on Wednesday jailed 86-year-old former boss of Brazilian football, Jose Maria Marin, for four years, branding him a “cancer” on the world’s most popular sport in the sweeping FIFA corruption scandal.
Mr Marin was found guilty on December 22 in connection with nearly $6.6 million in bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments like the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.
The octogenarian was one of seven FIFA officials arrested at a luxury hotel in Zurich on May 27, 2015, and the first defendant sentenced after being convicted at trial in the United States in connection with the scandal that disgraced world football.
“Mr Marin says he loves the sport, yet he and his co-conspirators were cancer on the sport he claims to love,” Judge Pamela Chen said during the sentencing hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.
“He abused the trust of the soccer organizations that he was bound to serve. He took millions of dollars in bribes that he didn’t need.”
In addition to sentencing him to four years behind bars, Chen ordered Marin to pay a fine of $1.2 million and return the nearly $3.4 million in bribes that he personally pocketed as part of his years of criminal dealings.
The former president of the Brazilian football federation (CBF) did not ask to be forgiven or offer any sign of remorse.
He however broke down in tears when talking about his wife of nearly 60 years who was present in the gallery.
“My wife and family’s inheritance,” he sobbed. “Do not take away their means to survive.”
He said football had been his great love, but that after his 2015 arrest, it turned into “a nightmare” and his family had been living in “hell.”
Marin spent five months in a prison in Switzerland before being extradited to the United States.
His 2017 trial exposed not only the corruption but the life of privilege, luxury, and excess enjoyed by members of FIFA’s executive committee.