American prosecutors struck a stunning blow against FIFA, the world's soccer organization, late last night with a coordinated raid in Switzerland that netted 14 top executives on corruption charges tied to World Cup bids and sponsorship deals.
Among those facing charges is the head of Miami-based Traffic Sports USA, a company that has had marketing rights to the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Champions League and previously owned the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Aaron Davidson, the 44-year-old president of the company, and 13 other defendants are named in a 47-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn federal court this morning. (The feds are expected to raid CONCACAF offices in Miami today as well.)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who was recently confirmed by Congress, announced the charges and said they expose widespread corruption in the soccer organization. “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” Lynch says in statement. "It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable.”
The full indictment still isn't available online so it's not clear precisely what allegations have been made against Davidson and Traffic Sports USA, which — along with its British Virgin Islands-based international sister company — was also charged as a corporate entity.
State business records show that Traffic Sports USA has been registered in Miami since 1990, with a headquarters listed at 501 Brickell Key Drive. In 2012, the company won a large marketing contract with FIFA to manage the 2013 Gold Cup and 2015/15 CONCACAF Champions League.
Davidson — who grew up in Texas and was fluent in Spanish and French — was the active face of the company, regularly appearing in international interviews:
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Davidson was also formerly the CEO of the National American Soccer League and Traffic Sports USA owned several franchises, including the Strikers. The team was sold to a group of Brazilians last year.
It's not clear if Davidson has an attorney yet, and Traffic Sports USA's website appears to be down this morning.