|Jose Maria del Nido addresses Sevilla fans prior to their 2006 UEFA Cup final victory [GALLO/GETTY]|
Sevilla President Jose Maria del Nido was sentenced on Monday to seven and a half years in prison for his involvement in the embezzlement of public funds in the southern Spanish town of Marbella.
Del Nido will also have to pay the Marbella town hall $3.5 million for his role as a lawyer in the corruption ring from 1999-2003.
Marbella’s former mayor, Julian Munoz, received the same sentence, while the municipality’s former urban planning adviser, Juan Antonio Roca, was sentenced to four years in prison.
They have five days to appeal the sentence handed down by the regional Malaga court to Madrid’s Supreme Court.
Sevilla Vice President Jose Castro defended Del Nido.
“This is terribly unjust,” he said.
“(But) it isn’t irrevocable, and it’s open to appeal.”
Success with Sevilla
Del Nido is in his ninth season as club president. During that period, Sevilla has won two UEFA Cup titles, two Copa del Rey trophies, one European Super Cup and two third-place finishes in the Spanish league.
Coach Marcelino Garcia said the court ruling will have no impact on the team’s fortunes.
“I am not going to say anything on the subject because it belongs to the personal life of the president, but I do want to show my total and sincere support,” said Marcelino, who is in his first season with the Andalusian club.
“This won’t affect our performance as a team in any way. I hope he continues as Sevilla’s president for a long time and continues to be as successful as he has until now.”
Sevilla are sixth in the Spanish league after their 6-2 loss to Real Madrid on Saturday.
Marbella was once known as a glitzy resort destination, but in recent years it has been tarnished by corruption.
In 2006 the Spanish government took the unprecedented step of dissolving the Marbella city council amid the scandal in which various city officials, including Munoz and Roca, were accused of accepting bribes and other favours in exchange for granting building permits.