Former ESPN president John Skipper will testify in court regarding FOX’s winning World Cup bids. The decision was revealed on Monday following a ruling by a United States federal judge. A defense attorney in the case attempted to block the move, but the court denied the request.
Former FOX execs face money laundering, wire fraud charges
Prosecutors in the case claim that former FOX executives Hernán López and Carlos Martínez used inside information and even bribery to secure media rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The duo are being charged with money laundering and wire fraud. López is the former chief executive of FOX’s international channels. Meanwhile, Martínez is the former president of FOX’s subsidiary Latin American operations.
Under the table payments to over a dozen South American officials allegedly began the bribes. The FOX executives were attempting to secure media rights to the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana competitions.
Prosecutors then claim that López and Martínez used the relationships attained from the South American payments to help coerce rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FOX also later secured rights to the 2026 World Cup as well. The United States co-hosts that tournament with Mexico and Canada. Therefore, it is massively valuable to the broadcaster with the rights.
Alejandro Burzaco, formally a CEO with Argentine broadcasting company TyC, previously testified that he worked with López to help FOX gain an edge in the process. Burzaco stated that he contacted former FIFA VP Julio Grondona about the negotiation process. Grondona supposedly told Burzaco that if “FOX puts up $400 million, then it will win.”
John Skipper to talk World Cup negotiation process
Skipper, who worked with ESPN from 1997 to 2017, was at the helm of the network when negotiations for the two World Cup tournaments took place. He will discuss the bidding process for the competitions in court. After departing ESPN, Skipper eventually moved to British media outlet DAZN. He also recently formed a new content company called Meadowlark Media.
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