The first round of FIFA trials is going on in New York City. From many different angles, it is a fascinating exercise. From the requirements for an anonymous jury, to the talk of “bag men” to the bandying about of some of the top names in sports broadcasting; there is quite a bit going on. When the defense counsel cautions jurors not to jump to conclusions about their client’s associations with known criminals, it may well portend poorly for the defendants.
Yet for The Man From FCPA, it is this teaser about payments from that may be the most interesting, or troubling depending on your perspective. Reports indicate the former head of Fox Sports, Alejandro Burzaco, testified the company “teamed up with a South American marketing firm to send millions of dollars in bribes to high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for lucrative broadcasting rights to major tournaments.” Later in a somewhat ambiguous response, when asked who he kept informed of the bribery, he answered “Fox Pan American Sports. Fox Sports.” The Fox Sports entity here in the US, that most people are familiar with issued a strong denial, saying in a Press Release, “Any suggestion that Fox Sports knew of or approved of any bribes is emphatically false,” adding “Fox Sports had no operational control of the entity with Burzaco ran.” Finally, “the statement said Burzaco’s company was a subsidiary of Fox Pan American Sports, which at the time was under the control of a private-equity firm.”
This information follows the original indictments which named a US shoe supplier in it. This entity was later identified as Nike. All this information reinforces the need for any US company which was involved with FIFA in any way to immediately begin an internal investigation to see if there are any problems which need to be remediated or self-disclosed to the Justice Department. For Fox Sports, it means demonstrating that Fox Pan America Sports was completely owned and controlled by another entity.