A former Fox executive was convicted Thursday of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to obtain broadcast rights to the World Cup and other major soccer matches. A second former executive was acquitted.
A Brooklyn federal jury deliberated four days before returning verdicts. Hernán López, former CEO of Fox International Channels, was convicted. Carlos Martínez, who headed the Latin American affiliate, was acquitted.
prosecutors said the case revealed corruption of international soccer. Defense attorneys said the former Fox executives were framed by an admitted criminal who was trying to minimize his own punishment.
An emotional Lopez hugged supporters in the courtroom after hearing the verdict, and his lawyers looked stunned.
New York-based Fox Corp., which was spun off from an international channel subsidiary during a 2019 restructuring, was not charged and has denied any involvement in the bribery scandal.
Lopez and Martinez are among dozens of people who have pleaded guilty or been convicted following a US-led investigation into international soccer and its governing federation, FIFA. the probe burst on sight in 2015, when US prosecutors accused the leaders of soccer federations of tarnishing the sport for nearly a quarter century by receiving $150 million in kickbacks and kickbacks.
FIFA continued to expand and rebrand its executive leadership group. The then president Sepp Blatter was ousted and replaced by the current president Gianni Infantino, who has insisted the organization has been reformed. However, in recent years it has come under fire for tolerating alleged abuses of migrant workers during the construction of the World Cup stadiums used in Qatar last year and for maintaining inferior pay and tournament arrangements for female players.
In the case of López and Martínez, the star witness for prosecutors was the executives’ former business partner, Alejandro Burzaco. He has cooperated in soccer corruption investigations since his arrest in 2015 in a related bribery case.
For 11 days on the witness standBurzaco said he and the two executives paid millions of dollars in bribes to undermine competing bids for television rights to the southern hemisphere’s biggest annual tournament, the Copa Libertadores, and help win broadcast rights to the biggest competition. lucrative sport, the World Cup.
Prosecutors allege the bribes yielded sensitive information from top soccer officials, including those at FIFA, which allowed Fox beat rival ESPN and secure US broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Defense attorneys said Burzaco lied about former Fox executives to minimize his own conduct and curry favor with the government before his own sentencing. He pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy and other charges.