Thursday, November 19, 2015
Reports: Ex-Chilean Soccer Chief Becomes Informant In Corruption Probe
While World Cup qualifiers took place this past week throughout the continent, the real action may have taken place off the field regarding the corruption investigation known in some news reports a “FIFA-gate.”
According to the Chilean press, the former chief of Chile’s soccer federation (ANFP) plead guilty today in a U.S. federal court as part of a plea deal. Sergio Jadue admitted to playing a role in a bribery scheme where an estimated $150 million was paid for the allocation of television rights to regional tournaments and buying votes for the sites of competitions like the 2010 World Cup. He also agreed to act as an informant for the FBI in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.
Jadue on November 13th took a 30-day leave of absence after returning from a trip in Brazil where he was beloved to have met with U.S. authorities. At the time he claimed that his trip was for private reasons unrelated to soccer though the Chilean police issued a subpoena against him related to the allocation of salaries in the ANFP. Jadue flew on Tuesday from Santiago to New York where, according to an anonymous ANFP official, he was “traveling as a protected informant of U.S. justice.”
The 36-year-old officially quit from his post yesterday though the ANFP refused to publish the resignation letter. Chile’s Radio Cooperativa revealed the missive earlier today, where he did not explain why he resigned but instead claimed that his job was a “mission accomplished.”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) last May issued indictments against fourteen soccer officials and marketing executives (most from Latin America) for their alleged role in the corruption scandal. The U.S. has sought the extradition of most of these figures although Jeffrey Webb, the ex-vice president of global soccer governing body FIFA, voluntarily appeared in court this past July.
Jadue was not named in the initial indictment though on the eve of the Copa America held this summer in his native Chile he claimed that he was innocent and “had nothing to hide.”
Jadue may not be the only former soccer confederation president from Latin America who could collaborate with U.S. prosecutors. Luis Bedoya of Colombia resigned suddenly on November 8th citing “reasons of a personal nature” yet four days prior he secretly took a one-way flight to New York. Furthermore, he reportedly carried with him a briefcase containing tax returns and documents relating to the properties he owns. He was not directly named in the DOJ indictment but it did mention that $1.5 million was paid to seven then-national federation presidents including Bedoya. Two other figures that were subpoenaed by the DOJ - former marketing execs Jose Hawilla and Alejandro Burzaco – have collaborated with investigators and implicated Bedoya.
The DOJ indictment named the 2016 Copa America Centenario as one of the tournaments involved in the bribery scandal. Plans for the special competition involving sides from across the Western Hemisphere and scheduled to be held in the U.S. next June have nonetheless gone forward.
YouTube Source – afpes
Online Sources (English) - SI.com, The Latin Americanist, CNN, The New York Times, Goal.com
Online Sources (Spanish) – El Universo, ESPN Deportes, El Tiempo, El Colombiano