Colombian admits bribing Concacaf officials for marketing rights

NEW YORK • A former Fifa match agent's confession that he helped pay big bribes to football officials in Central America and the Caribbean promises to fan the flames of the scandal rocking the beautiful game's beleaguered world body.

Miguel Trujillo, a 65-year-old Colombian resident in the United States, on Tuesday pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to four counts of money laundering, wire fraud and a falsified tax return.

He also dropped detailed bombshells against the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), that - while not naming names - could challenge the not-guilty pleas entered by current and former Concacaf officials and others indicted.

Trujillo, a football consultant and Fifa-licensed match agent, worked with Media World and Traffic Sports USA, two event management companies implicated in securing lucrative broadcast and marketing contracts through bribes to Fifa officials.

He said that, between 2008 and 2015, bribes were paid to officials in three federations belonging to the Central American Football Union (Uncaf) to obtain marketing rights for qualifying games for the World Cups in Brazil in 2014, Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

According to his testimony, Trujillo said: "I agreed that Media World would pay, and helped Media World to pay, hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to high-ranking officials at these federations."

He also spoke of "tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to high-ranking officials of various soccer federations, including officials of two different Uncaf federations".

The Colombian added that he had been a go-between for Argentinian sports marketing companies and Concacaf, and helped bribe officials in that latter organisation to win rights for events such as the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Three Argentinian businessmen in charge of the implicated companies - Torneos y Competencias and Full Play Group - are among those indicted in the wide-ranging scandal that has shocked football and threatened to bring Fifa to its knees.

One of the businessmen, Alejandro Burzaco, in November pleaded guilty and had US$21 million (S$29 million) seized. The other two, brothers Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, are under house arrest in Argentina.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'Colombian admits bribing Concacaf officials for marketing rights'. Print Edition | Subscribe