July 7, 2015 / 10:55 PM / 4 years ago

Soccer scandal prompts CONCACAF to split from sports marketing firm

MIAMI (Reuters) - CONCACAF, the regional body that controls soccer in the Caribbean, North America and Central America, announced Tuesday it has parted with the U.S. division of a Brazilian sports marketing firm that federal prosecutors have indicted on corruption charges.

The building housing offices of CONCACAF, the soccer federation that governs North America, Central America and the Caribbean, is seen during a search by FBI agents in Miami Beach, Florida May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Gaston De Cardenas

Traffic Sports USA, a unit of the Brazilian Traffic Group, was responsible for marketing and sales for the confederation’s biennial gold cup tournaments through 2021 as well as the annual Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League through the season ending in 2022.In a press release CONCACAF said it was a mutual decision “to part ways.”

It added the move “will have no effect on CONCACAF’s ability to fulfill its existing obligations to sponsors or to stage future tournaments.”

A CONCACAF spokesman declined further comment late Tuesday.

Traffic Sports USA’s President Aaron Davidson was among the 14 marketing officials and executives from FIFA, the governing body on international soccer, who were indicted in late May on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150 million in payments.

Davidson’s attorney declined to comment Tuesday. He was released on a $5 million bond in June, according to court records.

Prosecutors accused Davidson of securing contracts worth more than $35 million for the Traffic Group unit he ran and of arranging bribes for a top FIFA official.

The owner of Traffic Group, José Hawilla, has already pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, obstruction of justice and other charges.

Current and former CONCACAF executives comprised an outsize share of those charged by the United States in the FIFA scandal.

The Caribbean long championed former FIFA President Sepp Blatter for his support of developing countries there. However the U.S. charges have also peeled back the curtain on widespread corruption throughout the region.

CONCACAF’s major sponsor The Bank of Nova Scotia in late June warned the organization it would withhold sponsorship funds unless it cleans up its act.

CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands, his aide Costas Takkas and executive committee member Eduardo Li of Costa Rica were among seven people arrested in Zurich after the indictment was unsealed.

Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, based in Trinidad and Tobago, is among five others indicted in the same investigation.

Editing by David Adams and David Gregorio

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