FIFA Scandal Strikes Latin America

Several Latino Execs Arrested

The corruption scandal engulfing FIFA, the worldwide soccer governing body, has hit Latin America hard. Among the sports execs facing charges is Alejandro Burzaco, principal shareholder and chief exec of giant sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, based in Buenos Aires.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice is seeking his extradition along with the controlling principals of Argentine sports marketing company Full Play Group, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis. They are among 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing execs from the U.S. and South America who are accused of receiving more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals.

An estimated 70% of FIFA’s $5.7 billion in total revenues between 2011 and 2014 is attributed to the sale of TV and marketing rights to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

A judge in Argentina has ordered the arrest of Burzaco and the Jinkis, while the Brazilian Senate has moved to open a formal inquiry into the soccer bribery allegations.

Brazilian Football Confederation prexy Marco Polo del Nero hastily flew back to Brazil from the FIFA annual Congress in Zurich after the arrest Wednesday of several senior FIFA officials, including former Brazilian soccer chief Jose Maria Marin.

Del Nero, who missed the election Friday which saw Sepp Blatter (pictured, left) re-elected for a fifth term as FIFA president, said he had no plans to resign and “had nothing to do” with corruption.

Other Latin American FIFA officials indicted include Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela, Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay-US, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago and Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands.

Jose Margulies, the controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd. of Brazil, is accused of serving as an intermediary who facilitated the illegal payments between FIFA officials and the sports marketing execs.

The U.S., now seeking to extradite all those arrested, is likely to cast a wider net to find more people involved in the corruption scheme.

Meanwhile, the corruption scandal will do nothing to quench opposition to Blatter from states – the U.K. – or orgs, such as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), presided over by Michel Platini (pictured, right), who recommended members to vote against Blatter.

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