Sentencing hearing date set for ex-Traffic Sports US chief

Aaron Davidson, the former president of the US division of Brazilian sports marketing agency Traffic Sports, will attend a sentencing hearing on April 24 after pleading guilty to corruption charges in a case involving football’s global governing body Fifa.

Davidson entered his plea in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, in the US yesterday (Thursday) to charges of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. He also agreed to forfeit $507,900 (€466,300).

The 45-year-old could face decades in prison.

Davidson is one of 42 individuals and entities charged as part of an investigation led by the US Department of Justice into allegations of corruption regarding the award of marketing and media rights for football tournaments. Prosecutors said the defendants took part in schemes involving more than $200m in bribes and kickbacks.

Speaking in Court, Davidson said he participated in the schemes to direct $14.1m in bribes to Jeffrey Webb, a former vice-president of Fifa, who also pleaded guilty to charges last November.

“I knew that Mr Webb was using his position of authority and trust to enrich himself personally, and I understood that he was doing so without the knowledge of the organisations he represented or was affiliated with,” Davidson said, according to the Reuters news agency.

Davidson said that some of the bribes were used to secure media and marketing rights for the Caribbean Football Union’s qualifying matches for the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cup national team tournaments. 

Bribes were also paid for the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football 2013 Gold Cup and two seasons of its Champions League club competition.

Davidson also said he assisted in 2013 by making a payment to Webb so that a company that Traffic had an interest in could obtain rights to the 2016 Copa America Centenario, an anniversary edition of the Copa America national team event.

In addition, Davidson admitted to participating in schemes with Traffic founder Jose Hawilla, who secretly pleaded guilty in 2014 and has been cooperating with the investigation since.