Broadcasters Fox Sports, Globo, Grupo Televisa SAB Implicated At FIFA Corruption Trial
Some of the world's biggest broadcasters, including Fox Sports, Globo and Grupo Televisa SAB, were "implicated in corruption" of int'l football, with a former sports marketing exec telling a U.S. jury that they "paid bribes to win TV rights for tournaments," according to Patricia Hurtado of BLOOMBERG. Alejandro Burzaco, the former CEO of sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias SA, testified that companies he "partnered with, which also included Full Play Argentina and Traffic Group in Brazil, were involved in the bribery." Burzaco is testifying at a trial of three former FIFA execs charged in a "wide-ranging" int'l probe of corruption in the sport. Asked by assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Nitze what Fox Sports hoped to gain by winning the broadcasting rights, Burzaco said, "Using the TV rights to expand its Fox signal in all of the Americas from Argentina to the U.S.A." Fox Sports, Televisa in Mexico and Globo Comunicacao & Participacoes SA in Brazil did not immediately respond to requests for comment (BLOOMBERG, 11/14). REUTERS' Brendan Pierson reported Torneos y Competencias and Fox Sports jointly owned a sports marketing venture, T&T Sports Marketing Ltd. Fox, Televisa and Globo were not charged by U.S. prosecutors in the case. Burzaco said in court that Fox was "told about bribes" paid to football officials by T&T. Prosecutors also showed jurors a contract dated '08 between T&T and a Turks and Caicos-based entity called Somerton Corp, providing for a $3.7M payment to Somerton. Burzaco said that the contract was signed by James Ganley, former COO of Fox unit Fox Pan American Sports, and was a "sham meant to cover bribes" (REUTERS, 11/14).
MILLIONS IN BRIBES: In London, Ben Rumsby wrote Burzaco, who already pleaded guilty for his part in the case, testified that "he paid million of dollars in bribes," including to the three South American defendants (TELEGRAPH, 11/14). Also in London, Rob Crilly reported Burzaco told the court that senior officials at CONMEBOL received up to $1M a year "for their support." T&T extended its deal with CONMEBOL in '08 for rights to the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana. Nitze asked, "Did you pay bribes in connection with those contract extensions." Burzaco: "Yes sir." He added that those payments were in addition to the annual payments, calling them, "Special bribes for the extension of the contracts." He testified that then-CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz and former FIFA VP Julio Grondona received $1M, while three "more junior officials" got $500,000 "to ensure the contract was not put out to tender" (DAILY MAIL, 11/14). In London, Oliver Laughland wrote Burzaco testified that T&T "created a sham company to pay off the cash sums." The contract with Somerton was shown to the court. Burzaco: "It's not a real contract, sir" (GUARDIAN, 11/14).
LEOZ KEEPING HIS DISTANCE: The AFP reported when the trial kicked off in N.Y., Leoz was a "significant absentee, watching from the comfort of his home in Paraguay." Leoz, "one of the main suspects in the huge bribery and money laundering scandal" being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department, "is where any 89-year old is content to be, albeit under house arrest." He is suspected of receiving millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for marketing and TV rights for games, but "denies any wrongdoing and his legal team has so far frustrated all attempts to extradite him" (AFP, 11/14).
— Rebecca R. Ruiz (@RebeccaRuiz) November 14, 2017
- Fox Sports, US
- Televisa, Mexico
- Mediapro, Spain
- Globo, Brazil
- Traffic, Brazil
- Full Play, Argentina