Ex-Costa Rican soccer chief to plead guilty in U.S. bribery case

NEW YORK A former Costa Rican soccer federation president, who was arrested last year in a U.S. corruption probe involving the sport’s global governing body FIFA, is expected to plead guilty on Friday, according to court records.

Eduardo Li, who is also a former member of the executive committee for the North and Central American and Caribbean soccer confederation, CONCACAF, is set to appear in federal court in Brooklyn for a plea hearing, court records show.

A lawyer for Li did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Li, a former president of Costa Rica’s soccer federation FEDEFUT, is one of 42 individuals and entities charged as part of a U.S. investigation that has rocked Zurich-based FIFA and the soccer world.

The 57-year-old was among seven soccer officials taken into custody in a dawn raid on a luxury Zurich hotel in May 2015. Li had at the time been a member-elect to FIFA’s executive committee.

U.S. prosecutors have accused the 42 defendants of engaging in schemes involving more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks, which were both sought and received by soccer officials for marketing and broadcasting rights to tournaments and matches.

Sixteen people and two sports marketing companies have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges.

Li had been scheduled to face trial in November 2017 with seven other defendants.

At a Sept. 19 hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris said prosecutors were “in ongoing plea discussions with several of these defendants.”

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernadette Baum)

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