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Former Peruvian Soccer Official Acquitted in FIFA Trial

  • VOA News

Former Peruvian soccer official Manuel Burga waves to reporters as he leaves federal court in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Dec. 26, 2017.

A U.S. jury has acquitted a former South American soccer official in a FIFA bribery trial in New York.

Manuel Burga, former president of Peru's soccer federation, was cleared of one count of racketeering conspiracy. The verdict comes days after the jury found two other South American former soccer officials guilty of multiple charges of corruption.

Jose Maria Marin, former head of Brazil's soccer confederation, and Juan Angel Napout, former head of Paraguayan soccer, were convicted of racketeering conspiracy. Marin was convicted on six of seven counts and Napout on three out of five. They face at least 10 years in prison.

The three soccer officials were arrested in 2015, accused of agreeing to take millions of dollars in bribes to bestow television and marketing rights to soccer matches.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted 42 officials and marketing executives as part of the investigation that shook up FIFA. At least 24 people have pleaded guilty.

Burga called his acquittal a miracle. "God bless America. That's all I can say," he said.

He also vowed to return to Peru and resume a career as a lawyer. "My history in soccer is finished," he said.

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