Televisa, Globo paid bribes for World Cup rights, court hears

Mexican pay-television operator Televisa and Brazilian media group Globo were part of a $15m (€12.9m) bribery scheme for media rights to the 2026 and 2030 editions of national team football tournament the Fifa World Cup, according to a prosecution witness in the ongoing US trial into corruption in world football.

On his second day of testimony, Alejandro Burzaco, former chief executive of Argentinian media group and sports-rights agency Torneos, yesterday (Wednesday) provided further details on his claims on Tuesday that Televisa and Globo, along with US broadcaster Fox Sports, Full Play Argentina and Traffic Group in Brazil, were among those to have paid bribes.

According to the Reuters news agency, Burzaco told jurors in federal court in Brooklyn that Torneos, Televisa and Globo directed the bribe to the late Julio Grondona, formerly a long-serving senior Fifa executive and president of the Argentinian Football Association.

Burzaco said Torneos and Fox Sports were partners in a sports marketing venture, T&T Sports Marketing Ltd. The three media companies have denied all wrongdoing and have not been charged in the case.

The ongoing revelations stem from the trial of Juan Ángel Napout, former president of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) and Paraguayan Football Association (APF); Manuel Burga, former president of the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF); and José Maria Marin, former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

Burzaco yesterday said that Torneos and its partners paid a total of $4.5m in bribes to Napout, $2.7m to Marin and $3.6m to Burga to secure rights for football tournaments, promising millions more to each in future payments.

In another day of drama in the New York federal courthouse, Judge Pamela Chen moved to strengthen Burga’s bail conditions after prosecutors accused the defendant of threatening Burzaco by making a slashing motion on his neck as the witness testified.

The Associated Press news agency said Chen rejected a jail request, instead cutting off his access to phones and computers and placing him under house arrest at a home in Brooklyn.

Earlier in the day, it emerged that Jorge Delhon, an Argentine lawyer who formerly worked for the government-backed Futbol Para Todos (Football for All) media platform, committed suicide on Tuesday, hours after Burzaco testified that he took bribes.