Guatemala’s ex-chief pleads guilty in NY

New York (AFP) – Guatemala’s former football chief pleaded guilty in New York on Friday to racketeering and wire fraud conspiracies in connection with the unprecedented FIFA corruption scandal rocking world soccer.

Brayan Jimenez, 62, negotiated and accepted bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in awarding media and marketing rights for his country’s qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, prosecutors said.

Jimenez, a former member of FIFA’s Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility, agreed to forfeit $35,000. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for each count when sentenced, US officials said.

Jimenez, who was detained in January in a disheveled and intoxicated state in a posh suburb of Guatemala City, was extradited to the United States in March.

He initially pleaded not guilty to all charges, which included corruption, money laundering, fraud and embezzlement, and was placed under house arrest after posting a $1.5 million bond, $75,000 of it in cash.

US prosecutors in New York have indicted 40 football and sports marketing executives, including Jimenez, over allegedly receiving tens of millions of bribes and kickbacks in the largest corruption scandal in the history of soccer.

More than a third have since pleaded guilty. None have yet been formally sentenced and a date is still pending to put the rest on trial.

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