Former media executives indicted in U.S. Federation Internationale de Football Association soccer investigation

Tanya Simon
April 7, 2020

Russian Federation and Qatar offered and paid bribes to secure votes in the process that saw them awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, an indictment in the United States alleges .

The indictment also alleges Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, who was president of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF, received $5m (£4.1m) in bribes to vote for Russia's hosting of the 2018 World Cup.

Rafael Salguero, the former head of Guatemalan football who admitted to accepting a bribe in return for his vote in the process for the 2018 World Cup, is alleged to have been promised a $1m bribe to vote for Russian Federation.

Since the first indictments were announced in May 2015, there have been 26 publicly announced guilty pleas, many from former soccer officials, including CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.

Even FIFA itself has implicitly admitted votes were bought back in 2010.

Leoz was a former president of the South American confederation CONMEBOL who died in 2019 at the age of 90.

"The charges unsealed today reflect this office's ongoing commitment to rooting out corruption at the highest levels of worldwide soccer and at the businesses engaged in promoting and broadcasting the sport", Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of NY, said in a statement.

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The Guatemalan Salguero - banned from Federation Internationale de Football Association for seven years in 2019 - has cooperated with investigators in the past and avoided a jail sentence in late 2018 after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy, two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money.

"The World Cup has been over for two years now".

Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez were charged with wire fraud and money laundering and accused of using shell companies and sham consulting contracts to hide or disguise their bribes and kickback payments over a period of more than 20 years.

ESPN held the United States' English-language broadcasting rights for the World Cup from 1994-2004, but FOX won a bid in 2011 to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

The former Fox executives, Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez, have been indicted in Brooklyn federal courtroom on wire fraud and cash laundering costs together with Gerard Romy, former co-chief government of Spanish media firm Imagina Media Audiovisual SL, and Full Play Group SA, an Uruguayan sports activities advertising and marketing firm. The Justice Department said the charges against Romy and Full Play allege racketeering conspiracy.

If the allegations filed by U.S. law enforcement are correct, Russia's World Cup bid was no cleaner than Qatar's.

The indictment, detailed in the statement from the US Attorney's office, says Lopez and Martinez joined Full Play and other co-conspirators in a scheme involving the annual payment of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of CONMEBOL in exchange for broadcasting rights to South America's major club tournament, the Copa Libertadores. "Those who need to have read this [indictment] and forgotten about it", he told Russia's sports news website.

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