Last year, a soccer network based in Florida that repeatedly lost out on the television rights to tournaments that Fox Sports aired made similar bribery allegations against Fox in a pending federal lawsuit.
Fox Sports did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Tuesday’s testimony.
Burzaco said other media companies, including Traffic, Televisa, Media Pro, TV Globo and Full Play Argentina had all paid bribes for soccer rights as well. In a statement, Globo vehemently denied making bribes and said it was willing to cooperate with United States authorities.
The testimony came on the second day of the trial of three former South American soccer officials accused of taking bribes in a sprawling corruption investigation of FIFA, the sport’s governing body. Burzaco, the former head of Torneos and Competencias who has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other charges, has emerged as a key witness against José Maria Marin, Manuel Burga and Juan Ángel Napout.
The former officials, who have pleaded not guilty, are the first to face trial in the investigation. They are accused of taking part in a scheme spanning 24 years and involving at least $150 million in bribes. More than 40 other officials have pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving reduced sentences.
Burzaco was asked to point out the three defendants in the courtroom while testifying that he had bribed all of them. He described a series of meetings at hotels and restaurants in Buenos Aires starting in 2012 during which he helped forge deals for annual six-figure bribes for Marin, the former president of Brazil’s soccer federation; Burga, the former president of Peru’s soccer federation; and Napout, the former head of Paraguay’s soccer federation.
After one meeting where arrangements were made to wire Marin a portion of a $2 million bribe, Marin “gave me a hug and showed me his gratitude,” Burzaco said. At another, Burga “told me he was happy collecting the bribes,” Burzaco said. After being charged in 2015, Burzaco testified that he briefly went into hiding before deciding to turn himself in and cooperate.
“I said, ‘Alejandro, you go to the United States and face justice,’” he said about the decision. “‘Accept responsibility.’”