The arrest of former president of the Peruvian Soccer Federation, Edwin Oviedo, showcases a new chapter in the profitable relationship between soccer and corruption in Latin America.
On December 6, Oviedo was arrested for crimes he allegedly committed as a member of the "White Collars of the Port", based in Callao, including influence peddling and bribery,
Led by former Supreme Court Judge César Hinostroza, the White Collars were made up of business leaders, judges and other judicial officials, among others.
Oviedo allegedly covered up illicit expenses by Hinostroza during the 2018 World Cup in Russia and gave him several tickets for matches by the Peruvian national team, according to a witness under protection.
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In exchange for these gifts, Oviedo was seemingly favored in a legal case against another criminal network he is suspected of belonging to, known as the Wachiturros of Tumán. He is accused of having led the group, which allegedly orchestrated the murder of two trade unionists at the Tumán sugar company, owned by Oviedo’s conglomerate.
“There was a criminal organization within the sugar mill that silenced anyone who opposed the judicial administration chosen by Mr. Edwin Oviedo,” said prosecutor Juan Carrasco, who is in charge of the Wachiturros case.
Right now, Oviedo is in detention awaiting the next steps in the White Collars case, while Agustín Lozano has been named acting president of the FPF. However, Lozano is close to Oviedo and is also under investigation.
InSight Crime Analysis
When the FIFA graft scandal broke, it was the biggest corruption scandal in the history of soccer, leading to the downfall of 16 leaders of soccer governing bodies across in Central and South America and other high-ranking figures within FIFA. Many of those implicated in the case were accused of bribery and illicit enrichment.
It was hoped that the scandal would be a wake-up call and usher in a new push for transparency in soccer associations, especially throughout Latin America. But that has not come to pass, as more cases continue to make headlines and tarnish the reputation of the most popular sport in the world.
Crooked soccer executives throughout South America have a thorough understanding of how powerful the fanaticism the sport generates can be. They take full advantage of the sport’s ability to distract while it entertains in order to amass their illicit profits. The love affair between soccer and organized crime has not only manifested itself in acts of corruption and fraud, but also drug trafficking and money laundering. In some cases, it has gotten to the point where supporter groups of particular teams have become comparable to all-out gangs, as with many of Argentina’s barras bravas.
As further cases are revealed, current soccer scandals may barely be the tip of the iceberg.