FIFA’s ex-vice president pleads guilty to US bribery charges

  • Reuters |
  • Monday 11 April 2016
The FIFA logo is seen at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

The FIFA logo is seen at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

A former high-ranking football official in the Americas pleaded guilty on Monday to charges that he participated in bribery schemes uncovered in a U.S. investigation of corruption in the sport’s world governing body, FIFA.

Alfredo Hawit, a former FIFA vice president from Honduras who also led the North and Central America and Caribbean confederation, CONCACAF, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, to four conspiracy charges.

Hawit is one of 42 individuals and entities charged as part of a U.S. investigation of more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks sought and received by football officials for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.

The investigation has sent Switzerland-based FIFA and other football governing bodies into an unprecedented crisis. Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s newly elected president, has vowed to restore FIFA’s image.

Hawit, 64, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. He will forfeit $950,000 as part of his plea agreement.

Speaking in Spanish, the defendant admitted in court to having received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from two sports marketing companies that were seeking media rights for football matches.

“I knew it was wrong for me to accept such undisclosed payments,” Hawit said through a translator.

To date, 15 people and two sports marketing companies have pleaded guilty in the U.S. case. Prosecutors in a court filing on March 28 said they were in plea negotiations with multiple defendants.

Hawit had been arrested at a Zurich hotel on Dec. 3 along with South American football chief Juan Angel Napout as the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled charges against 16 people for participating in the bribery schemes.


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