NEW YORK: Julio Rocha, former president of the Nicaraguan football federation and ex-FIFA officer, has died three weeks before he was due to be sentenced in the FIFAGate case.
FENIFUT said that Rocha, who had already pleaded guilty before a New York court, had died aged 67 from a terminal illness.
Rocha, born on October 12, 1950, was arrested in Zurich in May 2015 along with six other senior football executives and was extradited to the United States months later. Nicaragua had also applied for his extradition to face further charges there.
In the US he admitted charges of organised crime and fraud for receiving bribes in exchange for authorising TV contracts for qualifying matches for the World Cup and agreed to repay more than $292,000.
He was also accused of having demanded and accepted $150,000 in bribes for himself and another official in the sale of the marketing rights to a US sports marketing company, in connection with 2014 and 2018 World Cup qualifying ties.
US authorities also alleged he maintained similar practices after he left FENIFUT and began work for FIFA.
Rocha took over as FENIFUT president in 1987 after Walter Feretti died in a traffic accident. He stepped down in 2012 after having been appointed by FIFA as the world federation’s dvelopment director for the Spanish-speaking countries of the central and north American governing body CONCACAF.
He had also been president of the Central American Football Union (UNCAF) from 2003-2007 and was a member of the FIFA Olympic Games committee for both 2000 and 2008 tournaments.
During his leadership of FENIFUT, Nicaragua became the only FIFA member to benefit from as many as seven Goal development projects including support from the construction of a new national stadium. It also developed its own offices, a national team training centre and team buses.
Rocha is the second man indicted by the FIFAGate investigators to have died before being sentenced, after former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.
Julio Grondona, long-time had of the Argentinian AFA and senior vice-president as well as finance chair of FIFA, would almost certainly also have been indicted. However he died in July 2014, nine months before the US Justice Department published its ‘wanted list’ of more than 40 individuals and companies.