Chuck Blazer, who touched off Fifa soccer scandal, dies at 72

Washington: Charles “Chuck” Blazer was a corpulent man with Santa Claus-like beard and hair, who enjoyed the pizzazz of international football, but he died out of the limelight, after a lifetime ban from football.
Born in 1945, and later a New York University business graduate, Blazer began as a volunteer soccer coach helping his son’s team, before he joined local and regional boards and then rose to the highest levels of administration in the sport.
From 1990-2011, Blazer served as general secretary of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) — the period of much of his alleged illegal activity.
In that role, he variously served on Fifa’s executive and other committees.
Blazer pleaded guilty in November 2013 to a lengthy list of charges including tax evasion, racketeering, money laundering and wire
fraud, and agreed to pay $1.9 million in fines.
The charges and plea were kept secret until 2015, when US justice officials laid out the wide-ranging case against 14 Fifa officials and others for illegally skimming and distributing vast amounts of money from international tournaments and other Fifa activities.
Among Blazer’s main wrongdoings was his involvement in the $10 million buying scheme for the 2010 World Cup, according to the indictment.
The alleged bribery took place in 2004, as the Fifa executive committee considered bids from Morocco, South Africa and Egypt to host the 2010 World Cup — world football’s premier event.
Blazer travelled to Morocco ahead of the vote with an unnamed co-conspirator, who was offered $1 million for his vote.
Soon afterwards, Blazer learned from the co-conspirator that representatives of Fifa, the South African government and the South African bid committee “were prepared to arrange for the government of South Africa to pay $10 million to a soccer organisation controlled by co-conspirator #1,” court documents say.
Morocco, in effect, was outbid on the vote, which went to South Africa.
Blazer had been promised $1 million of the sum, but was kept in the dark until he learned years later that the $10 million had been paid out.
Though years has passed since the vote, Blazer reportedly later told co-conspirator #1 that he wanted his portion of the money.
Investigators were first led to Blazer’s illegal dealings by his failure to pay six years of US income taxes from 2005-10.
According to media reports at the time, Blazer was known as “Mr 10 Percent” because he skimmed 10 per cent off of all business dealings within CONCACAF, while living in luxury in New York.
He also kept an Internet blog showing his interactions with world figures, including former South African president Nelson Mandela.
In April 2013, CONCACAF’S integrity committee issued a scathing report on Blazer and Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, one of the 14 indicted figures who had worked closely with Blazer in the organisation.
The CONCACAF report said that Blazer had “misappropriated CONCACAF funds to finance his personal lifestyle” to the tune of more than $15 million.
The money was used “without authorization” to subsidize his residence in New York’s Trump Tower, purchase apartments in a luxury Miami residence and pay for apartments at a Bahamas resort.
Late in life the rotund Blazer suffered with various illnesses, claiming he suffered from colon cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
He wasn’t able to take part actively in soccer anyway, after a 2015 ban from the sport, from the world governing body. — dpa