NEW YORK, Nov 16 ― A prosecution witness in the corruption trial of three former football officials testified yesterday that Mexico’s Grupo Televisa and Brazil’s Globo took part in a US$15 million (RM62.6 million) bribe to a Fifa executive to secure media rights to the 2026 and 2030 World Cup tournaments.
Alejandro Burzaco, the former head of sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias, testified for a second day in a US court, adding details to Tuesday’s testimony that Televisa, Globo and Fox Sports had been involved in bribery.
In the first trial to be heard in a US investigation of bribery surrounding Fifa, football’s world governing body, Burzaco told jurors in federal court in Brooklyn yesterday that Torneos, Televisa and Globo paid the bribe to Julio Humberto Grondona, a Fifa executive who died in 2014.
Burzaco said Torneos and Fox Sports, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, were partners in a sports marketing venture, T&T Sports Marketing Ltd.
Fox Sports spokeswoman Terri Hines said Tuesday that the T&T partnership was with a Fox Sports affiliate, Fox Pan American Sports, that was majority-owned by a private equity firm, and that Fox Sports had “no operational control” over T&T.
“Any suggestion that Fox Sports knew of or approved of any bribes is emphatically false,” she said.
Globo said on Tuesday that it “does not practice nor tolerate the payment of bribes,” and would cooperate with US authorities. It could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday.
Televisa declined to comment on Tuesday, and could not immediately be reached yesterday.
The three media companies have not been charged in the US case.
Burzaco’s testimony has described bribes to officials in exchange for media rights throughout international football, including regular payments amounting to tens of millions of dollars for rights to the Copa America and Copa Libertadores tournaments.
Jorge Delhon, an Argentine lawyer who formerly worked for the government-run football television programme Futbol Para Todos (Soccer for All), committed suicide late Tuesday, hours after Burzaco testified that he took bribes, Argentine police said.
The three former officials on trial in Brooklyn are Juan Ángel Napout, former president of the South American football governing body CONMEBOL and Paraguay’s football federation; Manuel Burga, former president of Peru’s football federation; and José Maria Marin, former president of Brazil’s football federation.
Burzaco has testified that he was involved in bribe payments to all three. In opening statements Monday, their lawyers denied that they took bribes. ― Reuters