Soccer is a rugged game. Soccer fans are a rough sort. And defendants at soccer corruption trials, well, a U.S. federal district judge is about to hear testimony about the throat-slashing gestures one of the defendants is alleged to have made to a witness during his testimony.
Manuel Burga, one of many defendants in the alleged international web of FIFA corruption in the award of games and franchises, is a former Peruvian soccer official on trial for conspiracy and racketeering. Alejandro Burazco, a businessman from Argentina who entered a guilty plea in the FIFA corruption web, was testifying about the payments he made to Mr. Burga in cash because Mr. Burga was already under investigation in Peru on charges money laundering. When Mr. Burga first made the gesture, Mr. Burazco was just leaving the witness stand after his first day of testimony. During day four of his testimony, Mr. Burga made the throat-slitting gesture again. Mr. Burazco told a federal agent of the gesture as he left the stand on his final day of testimony, crying. Mr. Burga’s lawyer told the federal district judge that his client has a skin condition that causes him to itch his neck. Mr. Burga’s lawyer also said that his client was going to see a dermatologist about the skin condition.
However, the federal judge concluded that there was sufficient probable cause to hold a hearing on the possibility of witness tampering. The court will see videos of the court room as well as any incoming evidence from the defendant’s dermatologist. Only in soccer.