Miami-Dade County

Top soccer official with ties to Miami, U.S. pleads guilty in bribery case

In this Wednesday, May 23, 2012 file photo the newly elected president of CONCACAF Jeffrey Webb talks to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, left, as they arrive at the meeting of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), prior to the two-day congress of FIFA in Budapest, Hungary. Webb is among several soccer officials who were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich.
In this Wednesday, May 23, 2012 file photo the newly elected president of CONCACAF Jeffrey Webb talks to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, left, as they arrive at the meeting of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), prior to the two-day congress of FIFA in Budapest, Hungary. Webb is among several soccer officials who were arrested and detained by Swiss police on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at the request of U.S. authorities after a raid at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich. AP

As the Justice Department unveiled new charges in a sprawling soccer bribery case, authorities revealed Thursday that a former president of a Miami-based confederation previously swept up in the federal probe has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Jeffrey Webb, the one-time president of CONCACAF, pleaded guilty last month in New York federal court to racketeering, wire-fraud and money-laundering charges. Webb, 50, who is from the Cayman Islands, agreed to forfeit more than $6.7 million as part of his plea deal.

Webb, who partly grew up in Tampa and lived in the Atlanta area, had served as a vice president and executive committee member for the worldwide soccer organization, FIFA, which is at the center of the bribery scandal. He was also a Caribbean Football Union Executive Committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association president.

Before his arrest last May in Switzerland, Webb had climbed soccer’s hierarchy to become a powerful official in charge of all broadcast and marketing rights for professional soccer tournaments from the United States to the Caribbean to Central America. Webb — along with numerous other officials and business people — was accused of soliciting and accepting millions of dollars in bribes from sports marketing firms and executives in exchange for sponsorship and media rights for regional soccer tournaments.

Also charged with Webb was his predecessor, Jack Warner, the Trinidad and Tobago lawmaker, who stepped down in 2012 as president of the CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, amid a separate vote-rigging bribery scheme.

Webb, Warner and other influential FIFA officials were accused of taking more than $150 million in bribes during the past 24 years in return for providing lucrative media and marketing rights to soccer tournaments, including World Cups.

Among Thursday’s newly charged defendants was Webb’s successor as CONCACAF president: Alfredo Hawit, a former Honduran soccer federation president who serves as a FIFA vice president and executive committee member.

Also on Thursday, the FBI raided the Miami offices of Media World, an affiliate of Spanish media giant Imagina Group, in connection with the FIFA soccer case.

Authorities say Media World was one of several sports marketing companies, including Miami-based Traffic Sports USA, that agreed to pay bribes in the soccer scandal engulfing FIFA.

In November, Roger Huguet, the CEO of Media World and its parent company, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. As part of his plea, disclosed Thursday, Huguet agreed to forfeit more than $600,000.

Last month, Fabio Tordin, the former CEO of Traffic Sports USA and currently an executive with Media World, also pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy and tax evasion charges. As part of his plea, also disclosed Thursday, Tordin agreed to forfeit more than $600,000.

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