CONCACAF and its commercial partner Traffic Sports have ended their relationship in what CONCACAF described as a “mutual decision” in an announcement released on Tuesday.
Traffic Sports was heavily implicated in the FBI's investigation of FIFA earlier this year, with authorities alleging the company bribed FIFA officials to ensure that they received commercial rights to tournaments, including those in the CONCACAF region.
Included within commercial rights are television rights, marketing opportunities, and sponsorships, which Traffic would then sell directly to broadcasters (in the case of TV rights) and other interested companies. Unlike most major American sports leagues, which sell their own commercial rights, third-party marketing firms such as Traffic are common in the world of international sports.
In its announcement, CONCACAF said the parting of ways from Traffic will not affect its ability to stage future tournaments or fulfill obligations to sponsors.
“CONCACAF remains committed to organizing and executing best-in-class competitions for our member associations, fans, players, coaches, and sponsors, including the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup,” the statement read.
CONCACAF and Traffic Sports have been working together since 2012, when the Brazilian-based company acquired the commercial rights to the 2013 Gold Cup. The company subsequently acquired commercial rights to the 2013-14 and 2014-15 editions of the CONCACAF Champions League. In 2014, it acquired the commercial rights to the 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021 Gold Cups, along with every season of the CONCACAF Champions League until 2021-2022.
Jeffrey Webb, the CONCACAF president who authorized the deal, has since been indicted in the FBI's investigation and was dismissed by CONCACAF as a result.
Traffic Sports also held a significant stake in the NASL, the United States' second-division league, controlling commercial rights for the league. In May, the NASL severed ties with Traffic and Aaron Davidson, the president of Traffic Sports USA who also served as the NASL's chairperson.
Traffic Sports has also distributed commercial rights for CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, Copa America, and other international soccer events.
- Alexander Abnos