FIFA-appointed committee questions Guatemala soccer TV contracts: sources

Tue Feb 23, 2016 4:46pm EST
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By Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - An audit by a committee appointed by FIFA, soccer's global governing body, has concluded that broadcasting contracts between Guatemala's soccer federation and Mexican media magnate Angel Gonzalez were awarded below market value, say sources with knowledge of the report.

The committee is running the Guatemalan soccer federation (Fedefut Guatemala) after the federation’s president and another of its top officials were arrested on bribery-related charges as part of wide-ranging U.S. probe into global soccer corruption. It presented the findings of its audit to Primo Corvaro, FIFA's head of member associations, earlier this month in Guatemala.

A source on the committee said the contracts, which have been reviewed by Reuters, appeared to be "excessively unfavorable" to Fedefut, and fell short of international standards because the price was so low and given the deals were reached after exclusive negotiations with Gonzalez.  

The so-called “normalization committee” has also handed the audit to the Guatemalan Comptroller's office, which is a government accounts watchdog, and recommended to FIFA's Corvaro that Fedefut's statutes be changed to assure fair and transparent tenders for future TV and sponsorship contracts.

The Comptroller’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The broadcasting contracts were signed by former Fedefut president Brayan Jimenez, who is awaiting extradition to the United States on corruption charges related to the sale of broadcast rights to another company.

Jimenez’s lawyer Francisco Garcia said the committee was artificially making an issue out of the contracts awarded to Gonzalez, adding that Fedefut’s contracts for broadcasting rights had been awarded without a tender process “for many years,” including before Jimenez became president.

"This is not the first time that the contracts were not tendered, this has been happening since administrations prior to Brayan Jimenez,” Garcia said.   Continued...

A journalist walks in front of FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files