Two former senior executives at 21st Century Fox and the former co-CEO of Spanish media firm Imagina have been indicted by the U.S. Department Of Justice over their alleged role in a bribery scheme of FIFA officials in exchange for broadcast and marketing rights.
The New York filing charges Hernan Lopez, the former chief executive of Fox International Channels and Carlos Martinez, the former president of Fox Latin America, with wire fraud and money laundering, claiming that the duo “relied on loyalty secured through the payment of bribes” to South American football officials in order to “advance the business interest of Fox” and gain “confidential bidding information” to win U.S. TV rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The two executives are also accused of being involved in bribing South American soccer officials to win rights to Copa Libertadores soccer tournaments.
Gerard Romy, the former co-CEO of Imagina, and Uruguayan sports marketing company Full Play Group were also charged with bribing soccer officials.
Lopez and Martinez are scheduled for arraignment in federal court in New York on 9 April and face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. According to reports, lawyers for the two men said both planned to contest the charges.
Fox won rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments back in 2011. Controversially, FIFA awarded the broadcaster rights for the 2026 event without competitive bidding.
We have reached out to Fox parent Disney for comment.
Dozens of individuals and companies have been charged as part of the U.S. government’s sprawling investigation into FIFA corruption. Prosecutors have secured at least 23 guilty pleas.
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