The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a South American marketing firm, Alejandro Burzaco, has indicted Fox Sports after he disclosed that the media outlet partnered with the firm to make millions of dollars in bribes to top soccer officials in exchange for lucrative broadcasting rights to major tournaments.
Burzaco, a former CEO of the Argentina-based firm, made this known while testifying at a U.S. Corruption trial as he revealed that the popular media company and other broadcasters were culpable in a scheme to pay bribes — hidden with the use of offshore side entities and sham contracts — that secured rights for the Copa America as well as other events.
In a bid to further boost their case, federal prosecutors produced an evidence of the aforementioned scheme during the hearing in New York City. The evidence was an agreement, reportedly signed by a former Fox Sports executive, for the partnership to pay a huge sum of $3.7 million to a holding company in Turks and Caicos that was an alleged outlet for the bribes.
When asked about whom he kept informed on the bribe arrangements, Burzaco said: “Fox Pan American Sports. Fox Sports.” before adding that the network “gained leverage and rights to broadcast its signal to Argentina” and other parts of the world, through the bribes.
There is a pending federal lawsuit dating back know to 2016 against Fox Sports from a Florida-based soccer network that consistently lost out on the television rights to tournaments that the media outlet aired.
Fox Sports has however denied any involvement in bribery in a statement issued on Tuesday evening adding that Burzaco’s company was a subsidiary of Fox Pan American Sports and that the establishment was under the control of a private-equity firm.
The statement read: “Any suggestion that Fox Sports knew of or approved of any bribes is emphatically false.”
“Fox Sports had no operational control of the entity with Burzaco ran.” the statement added.
Burzaco also said other media businesses like Traffic, Televisa, Media Pro, TV Globo and Full Play Argentina had all paid bribes for soccer rights as well though TV Globo has since denied making bribes via a statement with confirmation that they are ready to cooperate with U.S. authorities.
The testimony from Burzaco came on the second day of the U.S. trial of three former South American soccer officials namely Jose Maria Marin, Manuel Burga and Juan Angel Napout. The officials have been accused of taking bribes in a sprawling corruption investigation of football’s governing body, FIFA.