February 15 – The Mediapro Group have picked up the international rights to Concacaf’s club and national team competitions outside of the North America, Central America and the Caribbean region.
No value or term for the deal has been given but it significantly marks a return to Concacaf business for Mediapro who were one of the marketing businesses at the centre of the US Department of Justice indictments via majority owned US Imagina – previously known as MediaWorld and according to court papers, is majority-owned by Imagina Media Audiovisual of Barcelona “which is also known as MediaPro.”
Mediapro is one of the world’s largest sports TV production and distribution companies, as well as operating a number of technology-driven, audiovisual and match services, including VAR technologies.
The rights Mediapro will be selling in the international marketplace include this year’s Gold Cup, the confederation’s blue riband national team event that has been expanded for the next edition in July/August to include a pre-qualifying tournament in the US the week before the group stages of the final competition begins. They also include the Concacaf Champions League that will also expand from the 2023/24 season.
“This is a very important year for our Confederation and we are very excited to have signed a new international rights agreement with Mediapro. They have a significant global reach and will help us ensure that our 2021 Copa Oro and other major national team competitions are available to fans across the region and globally”, said Concacaf Secretary General Philippe Moggio.
Mediapro is already working in the Concacaf market with Canadian Soccer Business for global television rights to the Canadian Premier League, the country’s new first-division soccer league. The Barcelona, Spain, headquartered company produces more than 15 television channels worldwide, including several sports channels (though it recently, and acrimoniously, pulled out of its Telefoot channel deal in France), as well as producing more than 12,000 events.
Tatxo Benet, managing partner of the Mediapro Group, said: “We are very proud of the confidence that Concacaf has shown us. The Group’s experience in sports rights management will be key to projecting the value of its competitions.”
A statement from the US Attorney’s Office from the Eastern District of New York announced that a Florida-based company now known as US Imagina had pleaded guilty to fraud charges and committed to pay fines and restitution of more than $24m.
US Imagina was known previously as MediaWorld and according to court papers, is majority-owned by Imagina Media Audiovisual of Barcelona “which is also known as MediaPro.”
In the FIFAgate scandal, Imagina US pleaded guilty over two senior executives’ involvement in paying $6.5 million in bribes to senior officials of the Caribbean Football Union and four Central American federations for rights to World Cup qualifying matches.
In a plea-bargain deal, Imagina US forfeited $5,279,000 in criminal proceeds and was sentenced to make restitution payments of $3 million to the CFU, $1.7 million to the Honduran FA, $790,000 to the Guatemalan FA, $600,000 to the Costa Rican FA and $565,000 to the El Salvador FA. The company was also fined $12,883,320 which Imagina Media agreed to pay to avoid prosecution.
Last December Mediapro issued press release saying: “Imagina (Mediapro’s holding company) recognises its responsibility, as a legal entity, for the criminal conduct of its representatives.
“Said criminal conduct for which Imagina was responsible included the payment of bribes for the purchase of audiovisual rights for the qualification phase in the Central American and Caribbean regions (CONCACAF) for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cup in violation of United States law.”
Jaume Roures, Mediapro’s founder, emphasised that the three employees involved in the bribes had been “dismissed and removed from the Imagina Group or any of its subsidiaries since December 2015.”
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