Manchester United deny link to firm embroiled in Fifa corruption scandal
Manchester United have distanced themselves from a company embroiled in the FBI investigation into corruption in football by insisting they have no partnership with Traffic Sports International.
Traffic’s website cites United alongside several leading South American clubs as one of their club partners, but United insist they have never had a relationship with Traffic.
Jose Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Brazil-based sports marketing company, has pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy.
A US Department of Justice statement read: "On Dec. 12, 2014, the defendant José Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
"Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which was paid at the time of his plea.
"On May 14, 2015, the defendants Traffic Sports USA Inc. and Traffic Sports International Inc. pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy."
United’s connection with Traffic dates back to 2009, when the club struck an agreement with Desportivo Brasil over first refusal on emerging players.
However, the relationship with Desportivo proved unsuccessful and United have since ended the arrangement.
A United spokesperson said: “We are not partners of Traffic. We did have an arrangement on having first refusal on young players with the club Desportivo Brasil, which was wholly owned by them, but no players were signed as a result of it.
“The arrangement fell within the Premier League and FA rules but was with the Club not Traffic. Even that relationship no longer exists.”