lombia football ex-president discussed bribes for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid
The former president of Colombia’s football federation testified in a New York City court Monday that he received an offer in 2010 to back Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup in exchange for cash. Luis Bedoya, who has already pleaded guilty to corruption charges as part of a U.S. government investigation of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, told the court that he was one of three South American officials whom Qatari contacts attempted to bribe.
The trial, now in its third week, involves criminal charges against more than 40 people in connection with $150 million or more in bribes that exchanged hands among soccer officials, marketing executives, and politicians over two decades. Bedoya is one of more than two dozen defendants who have pleaded guilty.
Qatar has been at the center of some of the trial’s most detailed allegation corruptions, one of which was Bedoya’s. Bedoya said that he and his two colleagues were in Madrid when an unnamed “important person from Qatari television” and the Argentine businessman Mariano Jinkis, the owner of the sports marketing company Full Play, approached them at their hotel.
According to Bedoya, Jinkis told them that the Qatari official “wanted to know if South America was willing to support them” in their bid for the World Cup.” Jinkis said that he could solicit $10 million to $15 million in bribes and divide it up among Bedoya, his two colleagues, and three other South American soccer officials.
Bedoya and his colleagues ultimately did not go through with the offer, and Bedoya ended up supporting the United States’ 2022 bid. But the former football president admitted to taking other bribes over the years related to Colombia’s National team.