Fox executives allegedly agreed to bribe soccer officials for TV rights
Drew Angerer / Getty Images News / Getty

Rupert Murdoch's media empire is under the spotlight.

As detailed by the Guardian's Oliver Laughland and Jon Swaine, bribes for the rights to televise football were allegedly paid with the "agreement and support" of senior executives at 21st Century Fox, as documents and testimony forming parts of the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA placed the executives in meetings with corrupt officials.

Three men were named in a previously unreported court filing:

  • Carlos Martinez, chief executive of Fox Networks in Latin America
  • Hernan Lopez, former head of Fox International Channels
  • James Ganley, former chief operating officer at Fox Pan American Sports

The court filing, which was detailed by the United States Department of Justice and shielded the identities of certain organisations and individuals, alleged that Martinez, Lopez, and Ganley were involved in a bribery-for-broadcasting-rights scheme. Prosecutors said multimillion-dollar payments helped T&T Sports Marketing Limited obtain the lucrative rights to the Copa Libertadores, which is the South American equivalent of the Champions League.

T&T Sports Marketing Limited - an affiliate of Torneos y Competencias CA, an Argentinian sports marketing company that admitted to paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to a high-ranking FIFA official - was listed as a subsidiary by 21st Century Fox in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Government documents showed its investment in the company stretches back to 2002.

Torneos y Competencias CA entered into a four-year deferred prosecution in 2016, agreeing to over $112.8 million in forfeiture and criminal penalties, while agreeing to cooperate fully with the government's ongoing investigation. At the time, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that "Torneos paid the bribes and kickbacks with the agreement and support of the U.S. broadcasting company affiliates and their representatives, including three high-ranking officials."

Fox Sports declared it "did not not participate in any wrongdoing" and is "vigorously defending" the complaint.

Lopez's lawyers stated: "Mr. Lopez built his entire career on a foundation of respect and integrity, and he never authorised or was aware of any improper payments on his watch."

Ganley's lawyers claimed: "Mr. Ganley has a well-earned reputation as a highly accomplished and ethical business executive. He has never been involved in any wrongdoing, and has never been accused of wrongdoing. Any contention to the contrary is flatly false."

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Company is set to acquire 21st Century Fox for approximately $52.4 billion in stock.

Fox executives allegedly agreed to bribe soccer officials for TV rights
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