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Soccer

Guilty plea over FIFA corruption scandal

Soccer

A Florida businessman has pleaded guilty in New York to conspiracy charges over a scheme to pay bribes to high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches.

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Aaron Davidson, 45, entered the plea in Brooklyn federal court.

Sentencing before US District Judge Pamela K. Chen was set for April 24, when Davidson could face decades in prison.

As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit more than $US500,000 ($A655,800).

Davidson was arrested last year in the FIFA probe after prosecutors said soccer officials accepted $US150 million ($A197 million) in bribes over a 24-year period in exchange for rigging bids for lucrative marketing rights.

Davidson ran a Miami-based marketing firm. He was arrested along with more than a dozen other people in a case prosecuted in the United States on the grounds that illegal payments used US banks and those involved conducted meetings in the United States.

Prosecutors said Davidson negotiated and agreed to make bribe payments totalling more than $US14 million ($A18 million), executing multiple criminal schemes including the agreement to pay bribes to a high-ranking official of FIFA, CONCACAF, the Caribbean Football Union and one of FIFA’s national member associations.

The government said the bribes were paid to secure lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches for his company, Traffic USA, and its business partners.

Prosecutors said those sports events included FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League, among others.

The government said its investigation continues.

-AP

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