Blazer: Heart of football scandal, dies at 72
Chuck Blazer, whose enforced and self-incriminating admissions lifted the lid on the scandal-wracked excesses within FIFA’s leadership, has died at 72 after a long battle with cancer.
In the spring of 2011 Blazer was hailed as a whistleblower after reporting to the world federation how Caribbean officials were handed cash-stuffed envelopes in Port of Spain at a conference to raise support for the FIFA presidential campaign of Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam.
Blazer was then general secretary of central/north American confederation CONCACAF of which Trinidadian Jack Warner was president. The two had worked closely for two decades. But admiration for Blazer did not last long.
As Warner was banned from football so a damning internal report into his leadership of CONCACAF uncovered the way he and Blazer had cashed in personally on their work to the tune of millions of dollars.
In December 2012 Blazer quit as CONCACAF general secretary though he remained a member of the FIFA exco until the following July 2013 when he was banned provisionally for 90 days from all football.
Subsequently he was banned for life from the game he had worked hard, years earlier, to promote and develop in the United States. That had included working to help bring the World Cup to the US for the first time in 1994.
In the fall-out from the CONCACAF scandal it emerged that Blazer had not made any personal or corporate tax declarations for years.
Under pressure from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Internal Revenue Service he lifted the lid on the crooked web operated by many on the FIFA exco and among his colleagues within both CONCACAF and the South American confederation CONMEBOL.
Thse revelations led on directly to the dramatic arrests of seven senior football executives on the eve of FIFA Congress in Zurich in 2015 and to the FIFAGate investigation.
The latter has seen more than 40 individuals and companies (including Warner and two sons) charged with corruption offences concerning more than $200m skimed off football sponsorship and broadcasting contracts in the Americas.
Blazer made the most of his power, celebrity and wealth. He established CONCACAF in Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue where he had two apartments of his own. One he shared with his pet parrot named Max Blazer and one was, for years, reserved for his girlfriend’s cats.
He kept a vintage Mercedes-Benz parked in the FIFA garage in Zurich but, in latter years, grew so corpulent he could move around only with the use of a mobility scooter.
It was while heading for one of his favourites New York restaurants that his excursion and career were brought to a literal halt by FBI and IRS agents.