US & Canada

Fifa corruption probe: Venezuelan official Esquivel pleads guilty

esquivel Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Esquivel was among seven officials arrested in Zurich last year

A Venezuelan football official has pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the US as part of the investigation into the sport's world governing body Fifa.

Rafael Esquivel admitted receiving bribes in connection with the sale of marketing rights to tournaments.

He was among seven officials arrested at a luxury hotel in Switzerland last year.

More than 40 individuals and entities have been charged under the probe.

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Mr Esquivel - a former president of the Venezuelan Football Federation - was extradited to the US in March and had been due to stand trial with six other defendants next year.

He pleaded guilty at the federal court in Brooklyn to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy. He also agreed to hand over more than $16m (£13m).

The charges related to bribery schemes to market South American club tournament the Copa Libertadores as well as the Copa America, which features national teams.

Mr Esquivel faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each charge.

So far 19 people and two companies have pleaded guilty in connection with the US investigation.

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