NEW YORK — Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas pleaded guilty on Monday to U.S. charges that he participated in bribery schemes that are under investigation at soccer’s world governing body FIFA.
Callejas, 72, who is also the former president of the Honduran soccer federation, entered the guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn, New York to charges of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.
The defendant is one of 42 individuals and entities charged as part of a U.S. investigation into more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks sought and received by soccer officials for marketing and broadcast rights to tournaments and matches.
The investigation has sent Switzerland-based FIFA and other soccer governing bodies into an unprecedented crisis. Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s newly elected president, has vowed to lead the organization out of years of scandal.
To date, 14 people and two corporate entities have pleaded guilty in the U.S. case.
Callejas, who served as Honduran president from 1990 through 1994, was indicted in December and came voluntarily to the United States later that month to face the charges.
The indictment alleged that Callejas took bribes from Media World, an affiliate of Spain’s Imagina Group, so that the company could obtain media and marketing rights for qualifier matches ahead of the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
Callejas, who was also a member of FIFA’s marketing and television committee, has been under house arrest as part of a $4 million bail package.