With witnesses threatened, documents destroyed and jurors cloaked in anonymity, the trial that began Monday in a Brooklyn courtroom has the trappings of a grisly organized-crime prosecution. It's not. It's a corruption case against three former members of FIFA, international soccer’s governing body.

But the trial won't lack for drama. The testimony is likely to lift the veil on a global racketeering and bribery plot that prosecutors said ran for more than two decades at FIFA's highest levels and around the globe. The case is the first to go to trial in an international crackdown on FIFA that began with a predawn police raid at a luxury Zurich hotel in May 2015. As the probe widened, Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, president for 17 years, and other FIFA officials were ousted and the sport was forced to confront allegations that executives pocketed more than $150 million in payoffs in return for media broadcasting rights.

In all, 42 people and entities have been charged by the U.S. (although not Blatter) and about two dozen have pleaded guilty. On trial are Jose Maria Marin, 85, the former head of Brazil's federation and once on FIFA's organizing committee for the Olympics; Juan Angel Napout, 59, a Paraguayan and former FIFA official who was president of South American soccer's governing body; and Manuel Burga, 60, a Peruvian soccer official and former member of FIFA’s development committee.

On Monday, defense attorneys assailed the government's witnesses as liars, including the three men they say are cooperating with prosecutors: Alejandro Burzaco, the former chief executive of Torneos y Competencias SA, a sports-marketing firm; Sergio Jadue, a former head of Chile’s football association; and Rafael Esquivel, an ex-chief of Venezuelan soccer.

The cooperators are "some of the most corrupt people on Earth," Bruce Udolf, a lawyer for Burga, told jurors.

"They have every incentive to point a finger at as many people as possible," Marin's lawyer, Charles Stillman, said, explaining that the government's witnesses would lie about the bribery scheme in return for leniency from prosecutors.

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