Rosell to be released pending trial after nearly 2 years

MADRID (AP) — Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell will be set free pending his trial on money laundering charges related to the sale of television rights for matches involving the Brazilian national team.

Court officials said Rosell will be released after his trial session in Madrid on Wednesday.

Rosell has been in custody for more than 21 months after being accused of misappropriating funds coming from the sale of TV rights and the organization of friendly matches featuring Brazil as well as from a sponsorship contract between Nike and Brazil. He is also charged with forming part of a criminal organization.

The former Nike executive in Brazil, who presided over Barcelona from 2010-14, denied any wrongdoing when he testified before a judge on Tuesday.

Defense lawyers had made several requests to have Rosell released, saying it was unfair to have him in custody for so long without being convicted of any crimes. The previous requests had been denied because judges deemed Rosell a flight risk because of his connections abroad.

Spanish prosecutors are seeking an 11-year prison sentence for Rosell, plus a fine of nearly 60 million euros ($68 million).

Prosecutors say he helped launder nearly 20 million euros ($22 million) related to commissions for Brazil matches during the time embattled Brazilian soccer confederation president Ricardo Teixeira was in charge.

Rosell’s former partner, Joan Besoli, will also be released.