Two sports marketing companies fined US$1 million in Fifagate trial

Traffic Sports International and Traffic Sports USA, owned by a Brazilian entrepreneur, were fined after being found guilty of paying top football officials bribes for the promotional rights to major Latin American soccer tournaments. (AFP pic)

NEW YORK: Two sports marketing companies founded by Brazilian entrepreneur Jose Hawilla, a key witness in the massive Fifa corruption scandal, were fined US$500,000 each Monday, Brooklyn prosecutors said.

Traffic Sports International and Traffic Sports USA, which were founded by the late Brazilian businessman, had pleaded guilty to paying top football officials bribes for the promotional rights to major Latin American soccer tournaments.

Hawilla, who died last May at the age of 74 in Brazil, had emerged as a central witness for the prosecution in the lengthy case at a federal court in Brooklyn.

The trial wound up with the conviction of the two of the three accused, the former president of the Brazilian football federation, Jose Maria Marin, and the ex-head of the Paraguayan football federation and of the South American confederation Conmebol, Juan Angel Napout.

Most of the 42 senior figures charged in the vast Fifagate case by the US Justice Department were South American, although several Americans were charged, including Chuck Blazer, who also became a key FBI witness before dying in July 2017.

Many of the accused pleaded guilty in the New York court in a case which exposed tens of millions of dollars in bribes being paid by sports promotion companies to senior figures in South American soccer federations, in return for broadcast rights and other promotional events.

As well as having to pay fines, Hawilla’s companies were sentenced to a year’s probation, although they had already agreed to shut down their operations as part of their plea deal agreement.