ZURICH/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Brazilian football chief Jose Maria Marin pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in a U.S. court after being extradited on Tuesday from Switzerland in the corruption case that shook world football’s governing body FIFA.
Marin, 83, who headed Brazil’s preparations to host the 2014 World Cup while president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, had bail set at $15 million and a judge ordered him placed under house arrest.
He entered his plea through an interpreter before U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn, New York hours after arriving on a flight from Zurich, where police arrested him in May. Marin had agreed last week to the extradition.
Marin appeared to have trouble standing during the hearing, which Dearie paused briefly to ask if he were feeling well.
Marin was among seven officials from global football body FIFA who were arrested after being indicted on U.S. charges, an affair that has scandalized the administration of the world’s most popular sport and upset powerful commercial sponsors.
Longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter is among the people at Zurich headquarters under investigation by Swiss authorities. Blatter denies any wrongdoing. He has been suspended for 90 days.
U.S. authorities accused Marin of being among several high-ranking football officials who were due to receive $110 million (£71 million) in bribes in exchange for the media rights for regional tournaments. At least $40 million had been paid out when the charges were announced, prosecutors said.
The indictment also links Marin to a scheme to receive bribes for the commercial rights associated with the Copa do Brasil, an annual tournament for Brazil’s top club teams.
From 2012 to this year, Marin served as the head of Brazil’s federation and also held positions in FIFA, including on the organising committees for Olympic football tournaments and the World Cup.
Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Nate Raymond and Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Grant McCool