ASUNCION (Paraguay), July 21 — Former South American football boss Juan Angel Napout, who is serving a nine-year corruption sentence in a US prison, has contracted coronavirus, his lawyer said yesterday.

“He could barely speak when his wife called him. His throat was very sore” and he was struggling to breath, Napout’s lawyer Jose Gonzalez told radio 730 AM.

“He’s diabetic, suffers from hypertension and is very stressed,” added Gonzalez. “Having contracted Covid is dangerous for his health.”

Paraguayan Napout, 62, was sentenced in 2017 in relation to the “Fifagate” corruption scandal.

He was convicted of racketeering and wire fraud over the awarding of television and marketing rights for major events in exchange for kickbacks while he was president of South American football’s governing body, Conmebol.

The news comes just over a week after a federal judge in New York rejected for the second time a request from Napout to be released to house arrest on compassionate grounds.

Gonzalez said Napout would apply to be transferred to Paraguay to serve the rest of his sentence.

Napout’s lawyer said 70 inmates in the Miami prison where he is being held have contracted the coronavirus, as well as seven members of staff.

Napout appealed in March to be released on compassionate grounds citing the risks of the virus pandemic.

A month later his request to be released on bail pending appeal was also rejected on the grounds he was a flight risk.

Napout’s sentence was the longest of any of the 45 people accused in the scandal that rocked world football’s governing body Fifa.

The former Fifa vice-president was also fined US$1 million (RM4.26 million) and ordered to repay US$3.3 million in bribes he received.

The US$200 million bribery scandal led to the arrests of dozens of football executives — many of them Latin American — and culminated in the downfall of then Fifa boss Sepp Blatter. — AFP