Chuck Blazer, a disgraced American soccer official, may have helped the FBI’s investigation that launched corruption charges against FIFA, world soccer’s billion-dollar governing body.
Blazer was a New York-area “soccer dad,” as BuzzFeed calls him, who rose through the ranks of regional and national soccer leagues. His business sense eventually landed him a spot on FIFA’s executive committee, where as the first American committee member in decades he helped elevate Major League Soccer during the 1990s and made the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams into international fixtures. (RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About FIFA And The World’s Biggest Sports Scandal)
His position atop the ascendant American soccer world made him fabulously wealthy, with a $29 million credit card bill and a Trump Tower apartment for his cats. His fine dining habit, luxury Manhattan penthouse, vacation home in the Bahamas, first-class flights and personal Hummer were largely bankrolled by FIFA or its subsidiaries. The New York Daily News describes his peak weight as 450 pounds, the result of “so much fine food and drink that he eventually needed a fleet of mobility scooters to move from feast to feast.”
Then, after he exposed corrupt deals by his Trinidadian colleague Jack Warner in 2011, a follow-up ethics investigation led to his suspension from FIFA’s executive committee in 2013.
A New York Daily News investigation last year alleged the FBI made him a valuable asset in 2011, after agents confronted him and encouraged him to cooperate amid allegations of 20 years of fraudulent business accounting and a decade of tax evasion. He reportedly brought a camouflaged audio recorder to shady meetings during the 2012 London Olympic games. The recording proved to the FBI that FIFA officials were accepting bribes for exclusive media deals, as well as votes that gave the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. (RELATED: Meet The Jordanian Prince Who Could Be FIFA’s Surprise Savior)
Blazer is now 70 years old and battling colon cancer. While the FBI has not commented on Blazer’s role in Wednesday’s arrests of FIFA officials, many suspect his information-gathering was part of a deal to reduce his sentence after a guilty plea.
The arrests that took place Wednesday at FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland are part of an FBI investigation that ultimately charged 14 individuals with participation in racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. The sting also included a search Wednesday of a FIFA affiliate’s office in Miami.
The organization’s president, Josef “Sepp” Blatter, has not been charged, though he may be tainted by further evidence from the investigation. Blatter is expected to win reelection to the post on Friday.
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