Two former 21st Century Fox marketing executives were charged Monday in connection with the U.S. government's long-running investigation and prosecution of corruption in organized soccer.
The U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York charged Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez with wire fraud and money laundering. The former executives are accused of using bribes and kickbacks to land the broadcasting rights to the Copa Libertadores and other tournaments. Prosecutors said Lopez and Martinez secured loyalty through the bribes to "obtain confidential bidding information for the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in the United States, rights that Fox successfully obtained."
Gerard Romy, the former co-CEO of Spanish media company Imagina Media Audiovisual SL, and Uruguayan sports marketing company Full Play Group S.A. were also charged with bribing soccer officials.
In 2017, Fox Sports and several other broadcast networks were accused of paying bribes to FIFA for soccer broadcasting rights during the corruption trial. Alejandro Burzaco, the former CEO of the Argentinian sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, said the media companies—which also included Grupo Televisa SAB, Media Pro, Globo, Full Play Argentina and Traffic Group—had bribed FIFA for the soccer rights.
In 2015, Fox had its World Cup broadcast rights extended in a controversial decision that featured no bidding process with other media outlets for the U.S. English-speaking rights. Fox Sports broadcasted the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Women's World Cup and had already secured the rights to the 2022 World Cup at the time of the extension.
It also has the rights for the 2022 and 2026 World Cups, the 2023 Women's World Cup and a host of other FIFA competitions like the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024, FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 and 2025 and FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2024 and 2026.