Ex-Salvadoran soccer boss pleads guilty to bribery charge

Ex-Salvadoran soccer boss pleads guilty to bribery charge
FILE – in this Sept. 25, 2015 file photo, the International Federation of Association Football, FIFA, logo is fixed on a wall of its headquarters during a meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee in Zurich, Switzerland. Reynaldo Vasquez, the former president of the El Salvador Soccer Federation declared himself guilty on Monday, August 23, 2021, before a judge in New York, of money laundering and electronic fraud charges in a corruption scandal that has shaken FIFA since 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

New York (AP) — The former president of El Salvador’s soccer federation pleaded guilty Monday in a U.S. court to a corruption charge in the long-running FIFA bribery scandal.

In remote proceedings, Reynaldo Vasquez pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy for accepting bribes in exchange for awarding media and marketing rights for games played by the Salvadoran national soccer team.

Salvadoran authorities arrested Vasquez at the end of 2015 as part of an international roundup of top officials of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. He had denied the charges while putting up a failed extradition fight in El Salvador.

Vasquez, 65, was extradited in January to the U.S. and pleaded not guilty in federal court.

During Monday’s proceedings, Vasquez said that in 2012 he and other soccer officials received approximately $350,000 in bribes for rights to World Cup qualifying matches.

Part of the money Vasquez received was wired through a U.S. bank account, prosecutors said. Vazquez said he also acted as intermediary for other soccer officials to receive bribes.

Vasquez, who said he led the Salvadoran soccer federation from June 2009 to July 2011, agreed to forfeit $360,000. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

He is expected to be sentenced in December by Judge Pamela Chen.