Break up verdict for former Fox executives in FIFA bribery case

A former Fox govt was convicted Thursday of paying tens of tens of millions of {dollars} in bribes to acquire broadcast rights to the World Cup and different main soccer matches. A second former govt was acquitted.

A Brooklyn federal jury deliberated 4 days earlier than returning verdicts. Hernán López, former CEO of Fox Worldwide Channels, was convicted. Carlos Martínez, who headed the Latin American affiliate, was acquitted.

Prosecutors stated the case revealed the corruption of worldwide soccer. Protection attorneys stated the previous Fox executives have been framed by an admitted felony who was attempting to attenuate his personal punishment.

An emotional Lopez hugged supporters within the courtroom after listening to the decision, whereas his legal professionals appeared shocked. The choose allowed him to be launched on bail pending sentencing. He and his legal professionals declined to remark.

Martinez’s legal professional, Steve McCool, stated “justice for Carlos was served at this time.”

“The jurors heard that he was an harmless man and may by no means have been right here within the first place,” McCool stated exterior court docket.

A South American sports activities media and advertising and marketing firm was additionally convicted on corruption allegations, involving completely different tv rights. Full Play Group SA, integrated in Uruguay, was accused of paying bribes for the rights to the Copa América, a quadrennial nationwide competitors, in addition to World Cup qualifying matches.

New York-based Fox Corp., which was spun off from a global channel subsidiary throughout a 2019 restructuring, was not charged and has denied any involvement within the bribery scandal.

Lopez and Martinez are amongst dozens of people that have pleaded responsible or been convicted following a US-led investigation into worldwide soccer and its governing federation, FIFA. The investigation got here to the fore in 2015, when US prosecutors accused the leaders of soccer federations of tarnishing the game for almost 1 / 4 century by taking $150 million in bribes and bribes.

FIFA continued to develop and rebrand its govt management group. Then-President Joseph Blatter was ousted and changed by present President Gianni Infantino, who has insisted the group has been reformed. Nevertheless, in recent times he has come beneath fireplace for tolerating alleged abuses of migrant employees throughout the development of the World Cup stadiums utilized in Qatar final yr and for sustaining decrease pay and event preparations for gamers.

Within the case of López and Martínez, the star witness for prosecutors was the executives’ former enterprise accomplice, Alejandro Burzaco. He has cooperated in soccer corruption investigations since his arrest in 2015 in a associated bribery case.

Throughout 11 days on the witness stand, Burzaco stated he and the 2 executives paid tens of millions of {dollars} in bribes to undermine competing bids for tv rights to the southern hemisphere’s greatest annual event, the Copa Libertadores, and assist to acquire the rights of transmission to crucial of the game. profitable competitors, the World Cup.

Two jurors who agreed to talk after the trial stated Burzaco was not an element of their selections.

“We don’t discover it credible,” stated juror Robert Rose, who works as a lawyer.

Protection attorneys stated Burzaco lied about former Fox executives to attenuate his personal conduct and curry favor with the federal government earlier than his personal sentencing. He pleaded responsible to extortion conspiracy and different fees.

Prosecutors allege the bribes dumped delicate data from prime soccer officers, together with these at FIFA, that allowed Fox to beat out rival ESPN and safe US broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. .