Former Brazilian National Football Federation president Jose Maria Marin arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court ©Getty Images

The corruption case involving soccer’s global governing body FIFA is finally underway in a Brooklyn courtroom in New York City, with three former South American football chiefs accused of taking bribes, two-and-a-half years following dawn arrests of the game's powerbrokers that led to the toppling of Sepp Blatter’s regime.

The six-year investigation by United States authorities has plunged the Zurich-based association and the sport’s regional governing bodies into an unprecedented crisis. 

Swiss police swooped on a five-star Zurich hotel in May 2015, arresting seven officials at America's request.

Former South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) President Juan Angel Napout, ex-Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) head Jose Maria Marin and former Peruvian Football Federation President Manuel Burga are charged with bribery, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

They are the only officials in the widespread FIFA corruption scandal to have pleaded not guilty.

Presiding judge Pamela Chen, has stated that 23 former football administrators and marketing executives have admitted guilt to crimes of financial corruption. 

They include the Cayman Islands Jeffrey Webb, former President of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football Associations (CONCACAF) and British-Greek accountant Costas Takkas, one of his advisers. 

Honduras Alfredo Hawit, who took a $250,000 (£190,000/€216,0000 bribe when he was the interim CONCACAF President, and two sons of Jack Warner, the long-term CONCACAF President, have also been charged with serial corruption.

US prosecutors accuse the defendants of participating in schemes involving more than $200 million (£152 million/€173million) in bribes and kickbacks, both sought and received by officials for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.

Former CONMEBOL President Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court  in New York ©Getty Images
Former CONMEBOL President Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court in New York ©Getty Images

A total of 42 officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes.

Tens of millions of dollars was hidden in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Switzerland, US officials allege.

Jury selection began yesterday at the Federal Court in Brooklyn. 

Opening statements could begin on November 13.

The trial is expected to last weeks if not months, with prosecutors expected to present 350,000 pages of evidence and dozens of witnesses.

The worst counts against them carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

Of the 42 individual defendants, 24 have cut deals with prosecutors, hoping for lighter sentences in exchange for cooperation.

Two were sentenced last month: Guatemalan official Héctor Trujillo to eight months, and Takkas to 15 months, 10 of which he has already served.

The other 22 await sentencing, led by the aforementioned Webb who admitted to receiving more than $6 million (£4.5 million/€5 million) in bribes.

The final 15 defendants remain in their home countries, either charged or being tried for similar crimes, or fighting extradition to the US -  such as former Warner, the former FIFA vice-president.