Three defendants in FIFA corruption scheme plead not guilty before US judge

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NEW YORK, Apr 9 (Reuters) – Two former 21st Century Fox executives and a South American sports marketing company pleaded not guilty in New York on Thursday to criminal charges against them amid an extensive investigation into soccer corruption.

Former Fox executives, Hernán López and Carlos Martínez, and the Uruguayan company Full Play Group SA presented their statement before District Judge Pamela Chen in a proceeding conducted by telephone.

The two men and the company were indicted Monday on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

Prosecutors’ charges contend that the defendants bribed soccer officials to secure tournament marketing rights, using shell companies and sham consulting contracts to hide the scheme.

The charges are a new chapter in an extensive corruption investigation at FIFA that US prosecutors revealed in May 2015.

More than 40 people and entities have been charged in the case since 2016, and 26 people pleaded guilty.

Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout, former president of Conmebol, and former Brazilian soccer boss José María Marín were sentenced to prison after a trial in 2017.

Marín, 87, was granted early release in March due to the health risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic to older inmates. Napout, 61, is also looking to get out of jail.

(Report by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Edited in Spanish by Javier Leira)

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