USA government witness in Federation Internationale de Football Association trial says media companies paid bribes

USA government witness in Federation Internationale de Football Association trial says media companies paid bribes

Fox Sports partnered with a South American marketing firm to make millions of dollars in bribes to high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for lucrative broadcasting rights to major tournaments, the marketing company's former CEO testified Tuesday at a USA corruption trial.

It is the first trial to emerge from the US probe into corruption surrounding Federation Internationale de Football Association, soccer's world governing body. Torneos and Fox Sports, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, jointly owned a sports marketing venture, T&T Sports Marketing Ltd, according to Burzaco.

Fox Sports did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Tuesday's testimony.

Alejandro Burzaco Tuesday fingered Fox Sports, Media Pro, TV Global, Traffic, Full Play, and Televisa as he took the stand against ex-FIFA honchos Manuel Burga, Jose Maria Marin and Juan Angel Napout-saying he had personal knowledge of the grafts.

"They had presidential or diplomatic or royal treatment", Burzaco testified. Prosecutors claim the three accepted bribes in exchange for the award of rights to soccer tournaments.

They were whisked around by private jet, with "three or four Mercedes" parked on the tarmac ready and waiting on arrival at CONMEBOL headquarters.

Burzaco said that Grondona told him in January 2011 to also pay him Teixeria's $1m Copa America bribe, which the Brazilian "owed him" as "Grondona voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup".

Last year, a soccer network based in Florida that repeatedly lost out on the television rights to tournaments that Fox Sports aired made similar bribery allegations against Fox in a pending federal lawsuit.

Alejandro Burzaco, former CEO of the firm based in Argentina, testified that Fox and other broadcasters were involved in a scheme to pay bribes - concealed using offshore side entities and sham contracts - that secured rights for the Copa America and other events.

Burzaco's testimony, which is expected to continue into Wednesday, also implicated the three former football executives, José Maria Marin, Manuel Burga and Juan Ángel Napout, now on trial. During a break, he and Teixeria then pulled Leoz aside to "shake him up" and ask: "What the hell are you doing? Are you the one not voting?'" he said, adding that Qatar was voted host of the 2022 World Cup after the encounter.

Asked whom he kept informed about the bribe arrangements, Burzaco responded, "Fox Pan American Sports".

Burzaco told jurors that he helped arrange bribes paid to all three defendants, though his testimony went far beyond that, describing corruption throughout worldwide soccer.

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