Fox Sports Go Fail

On Tuesday, three Argentine soccer officials went on trial in New York, facing allegations that they accepted millions of dollars in bribes over 24 years. The key government witness brought to testify Tuesday was a marketing executive named Alejandro Burzaco, who reportedly agreed to squeal in return for a favorable deal from prosecutors.

Burzaco’s testimony was explosive. The executive reportedly testified under oath that Fox Sports, Televisa, Media Pro, TV Globo, Full Play. and Traffic all paid bribes for rights to air South American soccer tournaments. Grupo Clarin of Argentina was the lone network not to pay bribes, Burzaco said.

According to Bloomberg, Burzaco said Fox Sports’ objective in paying the bribes was, “using the TV rights to expand its Fox signal in all of the Americas from Argentina to the U.S.A.” In addition to the rights to the next three World Cups (and a whole lot of other FIFA events in between World Cup years), Fox ended up with the rights to last summer’s Copa America Centenario, which was nearly derailed by corruption.

Burzaco served as CEO of Torneos y Competencias SA, a South American sports-marketing company. He says he himself paid millions in bribes to the three officials on trial, among others.

A year ago, Torneos agreed to pay $113 million to the Department of Justice in relation to the bribery scandal. Burzaco initially plead guilty in the bribery case two years ago.

As the trial in New York unfolds, we may learn more about Fox Sports’ culpability in the bribery scandal. Significantly, we still don’t know whether the bribes originated in the US, or if they were carried out specifically by Fox Sports Latin America.

UPDATE: Fox’s alleged bribes reportedly relate to a pair of 2008 contracts regarding the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamerica tournaments.

UPDATE: As Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, it was Fox Sports’ Latin American arm that allegedly paid out bribes. However, BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger (who has been on the story all day) reports that Fox Sports owns the company that has been bribing FIFA executives for years.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Dale Moog

    This headline is VERY questionable if this is true the bribes were paid for COMBOL or CONCACAF tourneys not FIFA tourneys the charges are that FOX paid bribes for lower level tourneys not the WORLD CUP

    • Some Conmebol executives are / were also Fifa executives.

  • John Danknich

    And this is a surprise how?

  • Bscotch Bscotch

    So they paid bribes for those tourneys and NOT the World Cup?

    • This is in keeping with one very large part of FIFA corruption, where the money went to regional associations and not to FIFA HQ.

  • Deon Hamner

    Someone taking a bribe in soccer? Not uh….

  • OOS

    Just means FOX out-bribed their competition. Besides, its soccer so it doesn’t really count.