Apr 7, 2020 - Sports

Former Fox execs charged in bribery scheme for World Cup rights

Illustration of a soccer field as a Euro

llustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In October 2011, the American soccer world was stunned to learn that the World Cup broadcast rights, which ESPN had owned since 1994, would be moving to Fox for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Driving the news: According to a federal indictment handed down by U.S. prosecutors yesterday, two former Fox executives participated in an alleged scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to secure those rights.

  • One of the executives charged is Hernan Lopez, who is now the founder and CEO of podcast company Wondery, which helps produce The Athletic's daily podcast, among other shows.

The big picture: In addition to the charges related to Fox's broadcast rights, the indictment also alleges that representatives from Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA officials to secure hosting rights, confirming long-held suspicions.

  • In December 2010, FIFA awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, choosing their long-shot campaigns over strong contenders like England, Spain and the U.S.
  • More than half of the 22 FIFA members who voted that day have since left the organization under ethical or criminal investigation, so this level of corruption was suspected for years. Now it's in black and white.

The executives allegedly participated in a scheme to obtain the World Cup broadcast rights

Go deeper