NEW YORK (AP) – A Brazilian FIFA official who was a key organizer of the 2014 World Cup in his home country pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to U.S. charges stemming from a sprawling bribery case that has scandalized the soccer world.
Jose Maria Marin appeared in federal court in Brooklyn following his extradition from Switzerland, where he was arrested in May along with five other FIFA officials in a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich. A judge agreed to release the 83-year-old defendant on $15 million bond and allow him live with tight restrictions in a New York apartment valued at $3.5 million until his case is resolved.
A haggard-looking Marin listened to the proceeding through an interpreter. He slumped down in a chair while lawyers remained standing in front of the bench discussing his bail conditions. He later rose for a long embrace with his wife, who was required to sign the bond.
The couple left the courtroom without speaking to reporters. Marin’s lawyer, Charles Stillman, said he and his client would be “preparing to deal with the charges.”
In July, another high-ranking FIFA official, Cayman Islands banker Jeffrey Webb, appeared in the courthouse to enter a not guilty plea and was released on $10 million bond. The five remaining defendants in Switzerland are fighting extradition.
The FIFA officials are among 14 people named in a U.S. indictment alleging they plotted to arrange bribes of more than $150 million tied to the award of broadcasting and hosting rights for the World Cup and other tournaments over a 24-year period.
Marin was appointed to head the 2014 World Cup local organizing committee after the resignation of Ricardo Teixeira, who was implicated in a previous FIFA scandal for taking million-dollar kickbacks from World Cup broadcasting deals.
He also succeeded Teixeira, a longtime FIFA executive committee member, as president of Brazilian football’s governing body in 2012. He held that position until last April.
Brazil was humiliated in a semifinal of the 32-nation World Cup, losing 7-1 to Germany. Germany went on to beat Argentina 1-0 after extra time in the final.