A US federal judge has thrown out the conviction of former Fox executive Hernán López and South American sports media and marketing company Full Play Group SA in the FIFA bribery investigation. López, who has maintained his innocence after being convicted on March of this year, had faced up to 40 years in prison and millions of dollars in penalties.
Hernán López, former CEO of Fox International Channels, was accused of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to nab broadcasting rights to the World Cup and other top soccer matches. Prosecutors said that Hernán López, who until 2016 worked for a unit of what was then known as 21st Century Fox, had taken part in a complex scheme to make millions of dollars in secret annual payments to the presidents of national soccer federations in order to secure the rights to the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana, widely viewed South American soccer tournaments.
At the same time, a South American sports media and marketing company had also been convicted of graft allegations involving different TV rights. Full Play Group SA, incorporated in Uruguay, was accused of paying bribes for the rights to the Copa America, a quadrennial national team competition, as well as to World Cup qualifying matches.
“Our client is grateful for the court’s well-reasoned decision. It has been a long journey and we greatly appreciate the court’s complete vindication,” Carlos F. Ortiz, a lawyer for Full Play, told The Associated Press in an email. “We are obviously pleased with Judge Chen’s thorough and correct decision. We have never stopped believing in our client’s innocence,” added David Sarratt, López’s lawyer.