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Friday, April 20, 2018

Julio Rocha, jailed former Nicaragua soccer boss, dies at 67

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Julio Rocha, the former Nicaraguan Football Federation president convicted in the United States in a corruption scandal at FIFA, died on Saturday. He was 67.

Federation president Manuel Quintanilla said his predecessor died after an illness he had had "for several months."

Federation spokesman Moises Avalos told Nueva Radio Ya that Rocha had cancer. He added that family members petitioned for him to be able to return from the U.S. to die in his home country, "but unfortunately nothing could be done."

Rocha was president of the federation from 1987 to 2012 and director of the Central American Soccer Union from 2003 to 2007.

In 2013, he became development director for CONCACAF. It was in that capacity he was arrested in May 2015, along with other soccer executives from Latin America, at a hotel in Switzerland. He was extradited to the United States.

Rocha was accused of taking more than $150,000 in bribes linked to the sale of marketing rights, and in 2016 he pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.

Rocha was awaiting sentencing at the time of his death, and faced a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count.

FIFA banned him from soccer for life.

In Nicaragua, one of Rocha's primary legacies was the construction of the country's first national soccer stadium, and a school to develop player talent.

-AP

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