November 28 -Fresh revelations at the FifaGate scandal trial in New York have heaped more unwanted publicity on 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar with the former president of Colombia’s federation testifying that a sports marketing executive told him that up to $15 million in bribe money was potentially available for South American officials to back Qatar’s bid.
Taking the witness stand as the trial of three indicted former South American powerbrokers began its third week, Luis Bedoya said he was introduced via Mariano Jinkis, who ran the Full Play sports marketing Group, to a Qatari television representative during a meeting in a Madrid hotel ahead of the 2010 Champions League final. Bedoya said he could not recall the name of the Qatari.
He also divulged detail of a bribe from sportswear giant Nike in a bid for them to take over the Colombian national team kit deal. Ultimately the deal stayed with Adidas, who did not offer a bribe.
Bedoya was a former member of the FIFA executive committee who was banned for life in May last year for breaching five articles of FIFA’s ethics code, and is now testifying as a key government witness in the trial of Jose Marin (Brazil), Manuel Burga (Peru) and Juan Angel Napout (Paraguay) who have all pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and money-laundering.
Bedoya has a sentencing date for his own case – he has admitted to taking bribes – set for January 2018. He said that he was paid $10,000 monthly by the Colombian Football Federation, $20,000 a month from CONMEBOL, and $25,000 monthly by FIFA. He also told the court he took an estimated $3 million in bribes.
The court heard, through a translator that he had travelled to Madrid in May 2010 to watch the final of the Champions League and was approached at a hotel by an unnamed “important person from Qatari television”
Bedoya claimed that after the Qatari left, Jinkis stated that Qatar was seeking South American support and that “he could ask for $10 million or $15 million and he could divide it up between all of the people in the group of six.”
The “group of six” was a reference to presidents of six federations – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Venezuela – at Conmebol, which at that time included both Bedoya and Napout.
While none of the six were among those who voted for 2018 and 2022, Jinkis reportedly said the Qataris wanted to influence South America’s three voters: Julio Grondona of Argentina, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil.
Despite the discussions, Bedoya said, none of the officials took the matter any further and the money did not get paid. “That is too complicated, you shouldn’t get into it,” Napout told the group, according to Bedoya.
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