NEW YORK: Evidence concerning bribes from both Qatar and from sportswear giant Nike have been related to the continuing FIFAGate trial in New York.
The latest references to Qatar and its success in winning host rights to the 2022 World Cup was made by Luis Bedoya, former president of the Colombia football federation.
Bedoya is among dozens of football and spots industry executives who have pleaded guilty to charges in the $200m football corruption scandal.
He was giving evidence at the trial of former South American football directors Jose Marin (Brazil), Manuel Burga (Peru) and Juan Angel Napout (Paraguay) who have all denied charges of fraud and money-laundering.
Bedoya, a former FIFA executive committee member now banned for life, said he and two other senior South American officials had discussed potential bribes during a conversation with an intermediary in Madrid in 2010.
He had travelled to Madrid in May 2010 to attend the Champions League Final and was approached at a hotel by an unnamed “important person from Qatari television” and the Argentinian businessman Mariano Jinkis, the owner of the sports marketing company Full Play.
Jinkis, Bedoya told the court, wanted to introduce the Qatari official to Bedoya and his two colleagues, Napout – the former head of football in Paraguay – and Luis Chiriboga, his counterpart in Ecuador.
The unnamed Qatari “wanted to know if South America was willing to support them” in a bid to host the World Cup.
After the departure of the Qatari Jinkis moved the discussion on to potential bribes. The marketing executive, who along with his father Hugo Jinkis has also been indicted by the US Justice Department but has avoided extradition from Argentina, suggested that Qatar’s bid for the tournament could be “important … for business.”
He told the officials “he could ask for $10m or $15m [in bribes] and could divide it up between the group of six.”
The “group of six” were the senior directors within the South American governing body CONMEBOL. None of the six were on the FIFA exco for the 2010 vote but Jinkis said Qataris wanted to influence South America’s three voters: Julio Grondona of Argentina, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil.
Bedoya said none of the officials took the matter any further.
Bedoya said he had favoured the US bid for 2022 but, having expressed that opinion to CONMEBOL’s then secretary-general Eduardo Deluca, was told: “You’re always with the losers.”
He also claimed Nike had offered him a bribe in exchange for the Colombian national team kit sponsorship rights in 2010. The bribe was never claimed or paid because the Colombian FA partnered with Adidas instead**.
Last week the trial heard evidence from former marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco that former Argentinian football supremo and FIFA veteran Julio Grondona had discussed receiving at least $1m in exchange for his vote for Qatar.
Burzaco indicated that the two other senior South American officials with World Cup voting rights at Fifa, Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil and Nicolás Leoz of Paraguay, had also been bribed for their vote.
The court had also heard that a major Qatari sports investment company had been negotiating to buy a controlling stake in Full Play, the Jinkis’s marketing company. The deal was halted after the FIFAGate scandal exploded in in May 2015.
The trial continues.
** A Nike spokeswoman said: “Nike believes in ethical and fair play in both business and sport and strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery. We have been cooperating, and will continue to cooperate, with the authorities.”