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A US judge has imposed the first sentence in the sweeping FIFA corruption scandal, sending a Guatemalan former official to jail for eight months and saying that he had destroyed people's faith in soccer.
Hector Trujillo, 64, stood with his head bowed, eyes cast toward the floor and wiped away tears as he heard his fate in a federal court in Brooklyn yesterday, four months after pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy.
Judge Pamela Chen ruled that Trujillo, the former general secretary of Guatemala's Football Federation from 2009 to 2015 and a one-time judge on the country's constitutional court, would begin his sentence November 20 in Florida.
Trujillo has already served one month, prior to being allowed to live in the Sunshine State on a USD 4 million bail. He will likely be deported upon release.
Prosecutors say he and other officials accepted USD 400,000 in kickbacks from a Miami-based sports marketing company in exchange for media and marketing rights to Guatemala's qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
"These are serious crimes," Chen told the court. "I think Mr Trujillo feels remorse more about himself. I'm not sure for other people," the judge added.
The defendant, she said, had betrayed the trust of people who depend on officials like him "to do your job with honesty and good faith, and you've destroyed it -- what people feel for soccer in general."
"In some ways he destroyed his country. Soccer is the national love and a patriotic endeavor. He eroded... the pride of his country. He should have known better and done better when he took that money," Chen concluded.
The largest corruption scandal in the history of soccer, first unveiled in May 2015, has seen US prosecutors indict 42 football and sports marketing executives with allegedly receiving tens of millions of bribes and kickbacks.
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