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FIFA corruption trial ensnares U.S. media companies in bribery claims

The first U.S. trial in the massive FIFA corruption case began Tuesday in Brooklyn, with a key witness alleging that six media companies, including Fox Sports, paid bribes for soccer rights, BuzzFeed News' Ken Bensinger reports. The prosecution's witness, Argentinian-Italian sports marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco, "said his company had partnerships with all those companies and he is personally aware of their bribery," Bensinger tweeted.

Three South American soccer officials — including the president of the region's governing body, Juan Ángel Napout — are accused of conspiracy to "take bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for lucrative marketing rights to soccer tournaments, including the Copa America and Copa Libertadores," Reuters writes. Napout's lawyer told jurors that after Burzaco was indicted, he "cut a sweetheart deal with the government and began telling stories."

As sports analyst Roger Pielke Jr. observed on Twitter, FIFA "gifted" Fox the 2026 World Cup rights in 2015. "The [2022] Qatar World Cup has never made any sense outside FIFA's burgeoning pursestrings, but in order to forge ahead with the tournament it looks like they're going to have to make some sacrifices and financial make goods elsewhere," reported Awful Announcing at the time. "How else does one explain the stunning announcement that FIFA has suddenly agreed to extend their agreement with Fox and Telemundo for American television rights through the 2026 World Cup instead of opening them up for bidding?"