Report: Burzaco paid Messi, other Argentines $200,000 to play in friendlies

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Testimony continued in the FIFAGate trials in Brooklyn Thursday, and cooperating witness Alejandro Burzaco dropped another bombshell in court.

According to multiple reports, Burzaco, the former CEO of Argentine sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias, claimed on the witness stand that he provided a payment of $200,000 to Lionel Messi and other Argentine National Team players in order for them to appear in friendly matches, which likely helped he and others associated promote the match to sponsors and fans.

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According to La Nacion, the money was given to Messi and distributed to other players. Burzaco did not clarify which players exactly received this alleged payment. The massive claim came during cross examination from the defense lawyers of defendants Manuel Burga and Juan Angel Napout.

Argentina’s FA has been notoriously corrupt for years, with the problem finally coming to a head since 2015. After former president Julio Grondona passed away and a new president was set to be elected, the vote was declared invalid after a 38-38 tie, despite there only being 75 representatives voting.

The disfunction at the FA even caused Messi to briefly retire from international play after the 2016 Copa America, where he led Argentina to the final despite a laundry-list of administrative miscues in organizing the team’s travel and training.

In addition to paying Messi, Burzaco confirmed he paid a number of Argentine football and political officials bribes. However, he said he did not pay bribes to current President Mauricio Macri, former President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, and Anibal Fernandez, former cabinet chief of Kirchner.