Ex-Honduran President Pleads Guilty to FIFA Fraud Charges

  • Callejas admits to role in international soccer bribery scheme
  • Former soccer official marks 14th guilty plea in U.S. case

A former president of Honduras, Rafael Callejas, pleaded guilty to corruption charges as part of the U.S. criminal probe into allegations of long-running bribery schemes involving international soccer organizers.

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Callejas admitted accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for using his influence in allocating television broadcast and marketing rights tied to his role as former president of the Honduran soccer federation. He entered his guilty plea Monday to racketeering and fraud in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

Callejas, 72, also previously served as a member of the marketing and television committee for FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. The Honduran president from 1990 to 1994, he is the 14th person to plead guilty in the U.S. case alleging soccer officials traded tournament media and marketing rights for bribes.

Callejas told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy that Miami-based Media World LLC, a sports-marketing company, paid him bribes and other kickbacks. MediaWorld’s former chief executive officer, Roger Huguet, previously pleaded guilty.

"I used my position of trust to accept bribes on behalf of myself and another official at Fenafuth," said Callejas, referring to the Honduran soccer federation. He didn’t name the other official. "I knew that it was wrong for me to seek and accept such undisclosed payments."

The U.S. claims soccer officials including FIFA vice presidents and members of its disciplinary, marketing, compliance and executive committees took part in a 24-year scheme to solicit bribes.

Callejas first appeared in the U.S. in December and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has remained free on a $4 million bail package.