MIAMI — Four associations within CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union are in a position to receive more than $6.5 million after a United States District judge ordered a U.S.-based media company to pay them back in restitution, it was announced Tuesday.
The Honorable Pamela K. Chen, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, ordered US Imagina, LLC of Florida to pay the money. The restitution arised from fraud crimes, committed by US Imagina, LLC, against four associations in CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union.
The five countries are Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Judge Chen imposed the sentence after US Imagina, LLC, which once was known as MediaWorld and is a majority owned by Imagina Media Audiovisual SL of Barcelona, Spain, pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The first count charged US Imagina, LLC with paying bribes from 2012 to 2015 in connection with acquiring World Cup qualifying media rights from various Caribbean soccer associations through a collective agreement with the CFU.
The second count charged U.S Imagina, LLC with paying bribes from 2008 to 2015 in connection with acquiring World Cup qualifier media rights from four Central American member associations.
“We are, again, pleased to see tangible results from the Confederation’s hard work, investment, cooperation and efforts over the past few years,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said in a statement. “These restitution payments would likely not have been awarded if CONCACAF and our football family had not reformed ourselves. Over the past three years, we have endeavored to change the culture of football administration in our region and how we do business. We have brought our focus back to football where it should have been all along.”
CONCACAF began its reform process on July 6, 2015, when it announced its reform framework. Due to these reforms, the confederation and its associations have been among the first entities to be able to receive such restitution awards.
Under the plea agreement, the restitution payments are:
* Honduras (Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras): $1,700,000
* Guatemala (Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala): $790,000
* Costa Rica (Federación Costarricense de Fútbol): $600,000
* El Salvador (Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol): $565,000
* Caribbean Football Union: $3,000,000 (in restitution for the pooled rights of various Caribbean member associations)
“We are very pleased with this development as it shows how our focus on transparency, good governance and professionalism is paying long term dividends for the Confederation and its members,” Montagliani said. “As the Confederation and the member associations continue to receive restitution of this kind for the various harms we have suffered, we look forward to working with our member associations and regional unions to direct the payments and reinvest in football and development to grow our sport.”