Claims of Qatar 2022 Vote Buying Arise in FIFA Trial

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(WFI) A witness in the corruption trial of former world football executives says a $1 million bribe was given to secure a vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

FIFA executives cast votes for the World Cup. (FIFA)
Argentinean marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco has already pled guilty to dishing out millions of dollars in bribe payments for broadcast and marketing rights for major South American football tournaments. He is now a key witness in the landmark corruption trial against former football federation presidents José Maria Marin of Brazil, Manuel Burga of Peru and Juan Ángel Napout of Paraguay.

Testimonies in the trial began in New York City on Nov. 13. Two days in, Burzaco has not held back his allegations of vote-buying for World Cups and bribes for broadcasting rights, implicating the three men on trial and companies such as U.S. broadcaster Fox Sports.

On Nov. 14, Burzaco claimed former FIFA vice president Julio Grondona had spoken with him about receiving a bribe to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. While speculation about corrupt deals leading to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been rampant since the decision in 2010, the sworn testimony Tuesday provides the strongest evidence yet that these deals were in fact a reality.

Burzaco says he attended the 2010 decision in Zurich along with Grondona, FIFA executive Ricardo Teixeira and former CONMEBOL president Nicolás Leoz. He claims talk of supporting Qatar in exchange for money was not discreet.

He went on to say he facilitated nearly $15 million in bribe payments for the broadcast and marketing rights to Copa America and other tournaments. He claims that Grondona, who died in 2014, was the kingpin in the series of corrupt marketing deals for South American football.

Grondona, Teixeira and Leoz would be replaced by Marin, Burga and Napout as leaders of CONMEBOL, South America’s football confederation. The three officials deny any involvement in the two-decades of bribery schemes.

However, Burzaco says he held multiple meetings at hotels and restaurants with these officials beginning in 2012, organizing annual bribes of nearly $1 million to each. In his testimony, Burzaco says Marin embraced him after organizing part of a $2 million bribe during one such meeting.

The FIFA corruption trial is expected to last for several weeks which will likely result in numerous more allegations and claims of wrongdoing by FIFA’s former elite executives.

Homepage photo: Qatar 2022

By INSIDER Kevin Nutley

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