Fox Sports has been accused by the former CEO of a South American marketing firm of bribing soccer officials in return for securing broadcast rights for events.
During a trial that’s part of a wide-ranging FIFA corruption investigation, Alejandro Burzaco said Fox Sports and other broadcasters submitted bribes to get the rights to Copa America and other events. Specifically, prosecutors showed a 2008 agreement, signed by Fox Sports officials, for a $3.7 million payment sent to an off-shore account, reportedly a holding company for the bribes, in Turks and Caicos.
Fox Sports denied bribing any officials.
“Any suggestion that Fox Sports knew of or approved of any bribes is emphatically false,” the company said in a statement obtained by the AP. “Fox Sports had no operational control of the entity which Burzaco ran.”
Other broadcasters accused of paying bribes for soccer rights include Traffic, TV Globo and Full Play Argentina.
While Fox Sports is fending off accusations of bribery for soccer rights, it is also potentially facing setbacks after spending millions for 2018 World Cup rights only to have the U.S. Men’s National Team fail to qualify.
In 2011, Fox and Telemundo won the U.S. rights for the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups for a combined $1 billion. That total was more than double the $425 million that ESPN and Univision paid together for the U.S. rights to the 2010 and 2014 men’s World Cups—and of that total, ESPN paid $100 million.
For their deal, Fox paid $400 million and Telemundo paid $600 million. That agreement also included U.S. broadcast rights to the 2015 and 2019 women’s World Cups as well as other soccer tournaments.