Brazil: Globo among broadcasters linked to Fifa corruption scandal

Globo along with numerous other media corporations allegedly bribed Fifa officials to win broadcasting rights

São Paulo (SP) | Version in English: Nate Singham

More than 40 officials have pleaded guilty in hopes of shortened sentences / José Eduardo Bernardes/Brasil de Fato

Brazil’s largest media conglomerate, the Globo Network, was directly implicated in issuing bribes to Brazilian Football Confederation (Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, CBF, in Portuguese) and South American Football Confederation (Confederação Sul-Americana de Futebol, Conmebol, in Portuguese) in order to secure broadcasting rights. 

One of the largest media conglomerates on the planet, Globo Network, owner of TV Globo, is controlled by the Marinho family, the richest in Brazil, according to Forbes magazine, with a fortune estimated at more than US$ 28 billion.

The investigation is part of a scheme set up by the United States authorities on corruption involving Fifa and other football federations, which was dubbed FifaGate, which may still be related to kickbacks for World Cup broadcast rights.

In his court testimony, Alejandro Burzaco, a former Argentine businessman, revealed, last November, that his marketing company, Torneos y Competencias (TyC), held business partnerships with Fox Sports, Grupo Televisa SAB, Media Pro, O Globo, Full Play Argentina and Traffic Group, all of which offered bribes.

Burzaco said that in 2014 TyC and Televisa along with Brazilian TV broadcaster O Globo paid US$15 million in bribes to the former president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), Julio Grondona (1979-2014), who also served as Fifa vice president (1998-2014), to secure the broadcasting licenses for the 2026 and 2030 Fifa World Cup tournaments of Latin America.

Burzaco testified that he and his company had agreed to pay bribes to an estimated 30 individuals, totaling approximately US$160 million to control South American soccer marketing rights.

Globo’s press office in Brazil denied the allegations and any wrongdoing. The company said it doesn’t “make or tolerate any bribe payments.” 

In a separate court testimony, Eladio Rodriguez, who formerly worked for Alejandro Burzaco, told the U.S. court that an offshore was created in the Netherlands especially to receive the resources of gratuity and pass on to the soccer leaders. Among the Brazilians accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes are José Maria Marin, CBF's ex-Presidente and serving house arrest in New York, and Marco Polo del Nero, the current president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Jose Hawilla owner and founder of Traffic Group, a multinational sports marketing conglomerate headquartered in Brazil, took the stand against his former colleagues in exchange for a plea deal. The New York jury also heard for the first time recordings made by Hawilla after he was arrested in 2013 and agreed to cooperate with the FBI by wearing a wire.

During his testimony, Hawilla told jurors that he’d been paying bribes for 23 years and agreed to forfeit US$ 151 million as part of the plea. 

As part of his two-day long testimony, Jose Hawilla testified in front of a Brooklyn jury that former Brazilian Soccer Federation President José Maria Marín, one of the three former South American soccer presidents on trial, asked him in April 2014 to "look into" when he could expect to receive certain payments.

Edition: Simone Freire