Fifa corruption: Brazil and Argentina football chiefs bribed to pick best players in Copa America

Joe Hall
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Down and out: Brazilian players have allegedly been picked by administrators (Source: Getty)

The corruption uncovered within the heart of international football has so far been limited to business contracts and tournament voting - yet new charges from US officials suggest its rotten influence could even extend to the action on the pitch.

Among the multitude of corruption charges levelled against current and former Fifa executives in the Department of Justice's (DoJ) new 92-count indictment is the allegation that the Argentinean and Brazilian football associations accepted bribes to ensure certain players were picked.

Yet more Fifa officials were arrested yesterday as the DoJ charged 16 people with various corruption offences with a 240-page indictment which includes the suggestion that the selection of the Argentina and Brazil national teams was determined by media rights holders.

Read more: Brazil football team selection allegedly controlled by Saudi company

The allegations centre around multinational sports marketing company Traffic International and its owner Jose Hawilla, who owned the media rights to the Copa America tournament from 1987 to 2011.

Various officials in Conmebol, the South American football confederation, "began soliciting bribe payments from Jose Hawilla in exchange for the performance of various acts...over time, Hawilla agreed to pay and paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes", it is revealed.

The indictment states: "Starting in or about the 1990s, Jose Hawilla agreed on behalf of Traffic International to pay AFA, the Argentinean soccer federation, millions of dollars per edition of the Copa America so that AFA would field its best players.

"Hawilla then sent the payments as directed. Hawilla also agreed to make payments to CBF, the Brazilian soccer federation, to ensure that CBF would field its best players for the Copa America editions played in or about and between 2001 to 2011."

Both former Brazil chief Ricardo Teixeira - who helped secure the country's right to host the 2014 World Cup - and current incumbent Marco Polo del Nero are named in the DOJ's latest indictment.

And according to US attorney general Loretta Lynch, there could be more to come.

"The betrayal of trust set forth here is outrageous, the scale of corruption alleged herein is unconscionable," said Lynch.

"The message from this announcement should be clear to every culpable individual who remains in the shadows, hoping to evade our investigation: You will not wait us out. You will not escape our focus."

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