August 10, 2015 / 7:34 PM / 4 years ago

DirecTV says investment in affiliate may be hurt by FIFA scandal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Satellite-TV company DirecTV has said a $147 million investment in an affiliate that holds broadcast rights to soccer tournaments could be hurt by investigations into bribery allegations that are roiling the sport’s global governing body, FIFA.

A DirecTV satellite dish is seen on a residential home in Encinitas, California November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

DirecTV has a stake in the Argentine firm Torneos y Competencias SA, which is accused by U.S. prosecutors of participating in schemes to pay off high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for broadcast and marketing rights to soccer tournaments.

“In connection with recent FIFA-related developments and investigations, our investment ... could be adversely impacted,” DirecTV said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. The company said in the filing that as of June 30, 2015 it was contingently liable for $361 million primarily related judicial deposits in Latin America and insurance deductibles.

Last month, DirecTV merged with the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Inc to create the world’s biggest pay-TV company.

An AT&T spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2008, Bruce Churchill, head of DirecTV Latin America, told investors in a call that it owned 30 percent of Torneos y Competencias and described the company as a “strategic partner.” Torneos also appeared in a list of subsidiaries in DirecTV’s annual report.

Torneos y Competencias also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a sweeping indictment of nine soccer officials and five sports marketing executives for allegedly corrupting the marketing of soccer competitions for personal gain over more than two decades.

The indictment said Argentina-based Torneos formed a joint venture called Datisa with two other companies, which agreed to pay bribes of $110 million to football officials for TV rights related to games in the Copa America regional soccer tournament.

Argentine businessman Alejandro Burzaco, the former general manager and chairman of Torneos, is one of the five executives and faces U.S. charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

He pleaded not guilty in a U.S. court on July 31 after turning himself in to police in northern Italy on June 9.

Reporting by Mica Rosenberg and David Ingram; Editing by Frances Kerry

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