FOX is facing accusations of paying bribes to attain the World Cup rights. Originally, FOX acquired the World Cup rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup rights back in 2011. It later added the 2026 rights in 2015.

However, a court appearance on Tuesday for two former FOX executives could implicate that FOX paid bribes to help acquire the World Cup rights. Ken Bensinger from the New York Times reports Hernán López and Carlos Martínez are going on trial for wire fraud and money laundering charges. López is the former chief executive of FOX’s international channels. Meanwhile, Martínez is the former president of FOX’s subsidiary Latin American operations.

The accusations of bribery start with the two’s payment of “bribery and kickback payments” to 14 officials in South America in an attempt to land the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana. Those are club competitions in South America. Then, Bensinger continues to say that these two FOX executives used relationships forged through these bribes to obtain “confidential information” that helped the broadcaster secure the 2018 and 2022 World Cup rights.

Not long after, FIFA awarded the 2026 World Cup rights to FOX. ESPN had no chance to bid on the tournament, and FOX was yet to broadcast any of the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Alejandro Burazco is the chief witness in this case involving López and Martínez. In 2017, Burazco said during a trial testimony that he helped the two former FOX executives cover up $3.7 million in bribery. Allegedly, the agreement used a phony contract with a firm FOX owned in part.

Former FOX executives on trial for bribes regarding World Cup rights

According to Bensinger, the trial could last anywhere between four to six weeks. Also, note that FOX itself is not on trial. Instead, it is two former employees that departed the company. Yet, if the court finds the pair guilty of bribery charges, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Fox has denied any involvement in corruption.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire