A Brooklyn jury convicted a former FOX official of bribery in securing the media rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. This was a split verdict, with two former exeuctives facing allegations.

Prosecutors alleged that Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez issued millions of dollars in bribes and obtained inside information to secure broadcasting rights. Officials charged the duo with money laundering and wire fraud. Lopez is the former chief executive of FOX’s international channels. Meanwhile, Martinez was previously president of FOX’s subsidiary Latin American operations.

Quick conviction for Lopez, but jurors hesitant on Martinez

Jurors deliberated for four days after hearing the case from the prosecution. After lengthy consideration, the jury convicted Lopez in the case. However, Martinez earned acquittal in the case. A federal judge granted Lopez bail until sentencing.

The verdict stunned John Gleeson, one of the lawyers working for Lopez. The attorney cited “legal and factual errors” in the prosecutor’s presentation. “We look forward to vindicating our client on appeal,” said Gleeson.

On the other hand, Martinez’s lawyer, Steve McCool, stated that “justice was served” for his client. “The jurors heard that he was an innocent man and that he should never have been here in the first place,” McCool proclaimed.

Help in case against FOX World Cup bribery

Former ESPN president John Skipper testified in the case to help the prosecution. Skipper took the stand and stated missing out on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup rights “disappointed” and angered him. Also, Skipper claimed ESPN prepared to outbid FOX for the media rights.

Former TyC CEO Alejandro Burzaco backed up Skipper’s testimony. Burzaco, working as a government witness, revealed that he helped Lopez and Martinez bribe South American soccer officials in the attempt to secure the World Cup rights. Nevertheless, jurors cleared Martinez due to reasonable doubt.

FOX never faced charges or conviction in the case surrounding the World Cup media rights controversy. The television network denied any involvement in the allegations to secure media rights for the two World Cup competitions.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Ulrich Hufnagel