US Justice sentences former Salvadoran soccer boss Reynaldo Vásquez to 16 months in prison

The US justice system sentenced the former president of the Salvadoran Soccer Federation, Reynaldo Vásquez, to 16 months in prison for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for television rights for the national team.

According to the Brooklyn court, where he was tried by the instructor of the FIFA corruption mega-scandal, Judge Pamela Chen, Vásquez received, along with other Salvadoran soccer officials, $350,000 from a US company in exchange for the sale of broadcasting rights. of the qualifying matches and friendlies of the national team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In August of last year, Vasquez, 66, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and agreed to return $360,000 to the government.

In January 2021 he had been extradited to the United States, which since 2015 accused him of violating the law on organizations influenced by extortion and corruption (RICO for its acronym in English), created to combat organized crime, as well as various crimes. bank fraud and money laundering.

However, he was extradited to the United States only to be tried for the first crime of organized crime, the prosecution said when he arrived in the country.

 

"So embarrassed" 

At the hearing held this Thursday, the former Salvadoran soccer boss told Judge Chan that he felt "so embarrassed" of his conduct.

Vásquez, who was president of Salvadoran soccer from 2009 to 2011, could be released quickly given the length of time he has been jailed in El Salvador.

According to US justice, Vásquez and his cronies who participated in the corrupt scheme solicited and received bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the award of lucrative media and marketing contracts.

According to the American justice, Vásquez received in 2012 a part of the 350,000 dollars that were transferred from the bank account of a sports marketing company in the United States for the qualifying matches of the selection for Russia-2018.

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"In 2014 and 2015, Vasquez and others agreed to receive tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in connection with the Salvadoran national team’s participation in friendly matches to be played in the United States."points out the American justice.

FIFA suspended Vásquez for life in October 2019 from carrying out any activity related to football and fined him $522,000.

In March 2017, the leader was sentenced to eight years in prison in El Salvador for embezzlement of social contributions from more than 200 employees, for an amount close to 400,000 dollars.

The scandal known as FIFAgate, uncovered by the United States in May 2015, uncovered a million-dollar bribery scheme paid by sports marketing companies to soccer leaders in the Americas in exchange for rights to television broadcasts and promotion of tournaments, including the Copa America and the Copa Libertadores.

In the case, which brought down the body’s head, Sepp Blatter, the US government has accused some 45 people and several sports companies of more than 90 crimes and of paying or accepting more than 200 million dollars in bribes.

Of the nearly 45 defendants, a total of 26 pleaded guilty, and at least six of them have been sentenced.

Three others pleaded not guilty and went to a historic trial in New York at the end of 2017: former Brazilian soccer boss José Marin and former Paraguayan soccer and Conmebol president Juan Ángel Napout were found guilty and jailed, while former soccer boss Peruvian Manuel Burga was acquitted.

A dozen are still in their countries, where they were prosecuted by local justice or are free while fighting extradition.

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