Argentine football head, three ex-cabinet chiefs indicted

Buenos Aires (AFP) – The president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and three former presidential cabinet chiefs were indicted Thursday in a probe of the country’s football broadcasting rights distribution system.

Federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria suspected embezzlement after analyzing the government’s program to manage broadcasting rights during football championships and national matches, particularly concerning the distribution of broadcasting revenue between clubs.

The defendants include AFA president Luis Segura, six additional AFA directors, and three of former president Cristina Kirchner’s cabinet chiefs: Anibal Fernandez, Jorge Capitanich and Juan Abal Medina.

The judge did not order the detention of the defendants.

Kirchner spearheaded the government initiative “Football for All” in 2009, allowing Argentines to watch major football matches for free without a subscription.

“According to the documents we have submitted to the judge, there is money that did not reach the clubs,” said Alberto Piotti, a former judge appointed by the court to audit the AFA.

He added that the investigation should proceed “before the case is referred to a court to establish the liability of the accused.”

Mauricio Macri, the current center-right president elected in late 2015, declared that the state would end the program when the current contract expires in 2019. From 1992-2009, matches aired on subscription channels.

Bribery linked to broadcasting rights is a core component of the international football scandal that has plagued the sport’s governing body FIFA for a year.

US courts are currently pursuing several Argentines who held leadership positions in the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), as well as Argentine businessmen involved in sports marketing, in connection to the FIFA case.

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