The Daily Telegraph web site posted video evidence of Jack Warner, former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president, explaining Mohammad Bin Hammam’s cash-for-votes scheme at a Caribbean Football Union meeting in March 2011. “If you are pious then go and build a church,” he tells the audience.
Short version of the video here, long version here
For a quarter century Chuck Blazer was the most powerful soccer administrator in the United States and CONCACAF. He was a member of the FIFA Executive Committee from 1996 to 2013. Investigative journalist Andrew Jennings revealed in 2011 that Blazer was under FBI investigation for tax evasion. Thanks to a devastating, detailed report by The New York Daily News published this weekend, we now also know that Blazer became an FBI informant. (Click here for full text.)
In doing so, U.S. authorities sought to gain “a rare window into the shadowy financing of international soccer, a world notorious for its corruption and lavish excess,” the Daily News reports.
Blazer’s debauchery is legendary, as this blog has highlighted in the past. But the Daily News presented new evidence documenting how he “failed to pay income taxes for more than a decade while hauling in tens of millions of dollars, a discovery the feds used to threaten him with prosecution and convert him into a cooperating witness.” The newspaper provides fresh evidence of Blazer’s misallocation of funds and misuse of assets belonging to CONCACAF. He went so far as to run up $29 million in credit card charges. Damning proof, it is alleged, that Blazer was “intoxicated by power and cash.”
The 69-year-old soccer official, now dying of colon cancer, “lived like there was no tomorrow,” emboldened by global football administration’s modus operandi—one that makes “you feel like you’re the king of the world,” one source told the Daily News; “And it’s all for soccer.”
Addendum (11/6/2014): Listen to “Beyond The Pitch” podcast “dissect and tell the story behind the tale that is titled Mister Ten Percent, Chuck Blazer, a lengthy piece that digs deep into his background and explains how a soccer dad from New York rose to the dizzying heights of world football royalty, how he climbed the ladder armed with ambition and ingenuity and what led to his fall as fresh reports in New York media suggest that he is now cooperating with federal authorities.”
Chuck Blazer, the American General Secretary of CONCACAF, announced he is leaving his post at the end of the year, but will remain on FIFA’s Executive Committee. Blazer, 65, has been milking football for his personal profit and pleasure under the tutelage of CONCACAF and FIFA godfather Jack Warner for two decades. In the build up to the FIFA presidential election earlier in the year, Blazer blew the whistle on a cash-for-votes scheme that led to Blatter being reelected unopposed.
In August, it was also revealed that Blazer was under FBI investigation for tax evasion. Investigative reporter Andrew Jennings — the bane of FIFA crooks’ existence — has written about Blazer’s world of offshore accounts and football-funded lavish lifestyle. “His confidential contract reveals that he hires himself out from his Cayman-based company Sportvertising,” Jennings writes. “It also reveals that he pockets 10% in ‘commissions’ from regional football marketing deals. Last year he picked up nearly $2 million and over the last five years has taken $9.6 million. The sums are recorded in Concacaf accounts – which are not made public – under the heading of ‘Commissions’ – but with no indication he received them.”
A former CONCACAF employee in New York blogged in May about going out with Blazer to strip clubs in Manhattan. The General Secretary treated himself and his staff to “food, strippers, dancers, and massages” paid with “an American Express Card, with CONCACAF and Blazer’s name on it. [. . .] That’s what the General Secretary and Treasurer of CONCACAF, the FIFA Executive from North America, spent the region’s money on . . . regularly,” wrote Mel Brennan.
For Sunil Gulati, US Soccer president, however, “Chuck’s contributions to the sport over the last 30 years are unparalleled. All of us in Concacaf owe him a great debt of gratitude for his sustained efforts in helping to take the sport to where it is today. There is no doubt that he will continue to make an impact in whatever role he chooses.” For the good of the game: the saga continues.
Having witnessed the USA’s last victory in November against South Africa in Cape Town, our 9-year-old daughters proved themselves lucky talismans for the Americans again on Tuesday (a school night!) against Canada in a Gold Cup match at Ford Field in Detroit.
It was my first football match indoors. Ford Field’s warehouse ambience infused the Detroit River derby with a blue-collar chic feel. We welcomed the oddly pleasant sensation of walking into an air-conditioned stadium on a scorchingly hot and humid afternoon.
We arrived early enough to watch Panama – Guadeloupe with a few thousand hard core aficionados. The heavily favored Panamanians scored twice (’29 and ’32) before Guadeloupe’s Tacalfred got a straight red for a rather innocuous foul on Luis Henríquez. Reduced to ten men, the Gwada Boys came to life as the game got chippy.
Panama’s third goal — an authoritative penalty by Gomez — seemed to bury the game a few minutes into the second half. (The PK was actually taken twice. Gomez “spooned” the first one into the net.) Content and over-confident, Panama switched off. Guadeloupe fought back. Substitute striker Jovial poached two well-taken goals to make the closing moments tense and exciting. Final score: 3-2 Panama.
The ritual procession of the USA and Canada out of the tunnel three rows below us midwifed a roar from the crowd of 28,000. “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee,” sang a few hundred Canadian ultras in the North End. Sam’s Army in the South End led the home fans in a spirited response: “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” Are we ready to rumble?
Canada sat back on defense, hoping to spring counterattacks. FIfteen minutes in, Lars Hirschfeld’s comical goalkeeping error on Altidore’s simple shot from a tight angle gifted the US the lead. Despite a lot of huffing and puffing on Ford Field’s soft and slightly unstable grass surface, Canada hardly threatened. 1-0 at the break. Our daughters devoted themselves to their new pastimes: Anna, wearing her Messi Barca jersey, went autograph hunting among the Panamanian squad members seated right behind us; Sophie, clad in a Mia Hamm number 9 shirt, snapped photos.
One of the highlights of the second half was an on-duty police officer leading the “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chants in our section. He enjoyed it so much that he continued cheerleading in other sections of the lower bowl. Highlights on the pitch came courtesy of Clint Dempsey. First, he nearly scored a goal for the ages: a flying backward heel shot at the back post cleared miraculously by a Canadian defender’s jaw. Then he buried the Canadians in the 62nd minute. Altidore sent in a low cross from the right flank and Deuce slid in at the far post — like the quasi-goal earlier — and made it 2-0. Great goal. Classic Dempsey.
There was still time for the Tim Howard Show: a one-handed diving save off a thunderous Ali Gerba shot, and then back-to-back stops in the dying minutes inside the six-yard-box. Clean sheet preserved. Final score: 2-0. The US players thanked us and we filed happily out of the football warehouse and out into the steamy Detroit night.
Yesterday Brazil beat Argentina 3-1 in Rosario, Argentina. Brazil qualified, but Argentina is just about holding onto the fourth automatic qualifying place for South Africa 2010. (The fifth placed Conmebol or South American team will face CONCACAF’s 4th placed side in a home-and-away play-off. The Americas could provide a tasty appetizer for South Africa: Argentina vs. Mexico anyone? Or get the popcorn out for the USA against Venezuela!)
Argentina has some tough qualifying games ahead (particularly Paraguay, and a trip to the Centenario in Montevideo). This could be the first time they fail to qualify since 1970. They are coached by one Diego Maradona, God to some Argentinian (and all Scottish) fans. And some observers and the country’s fans (this is sacrilege of course) think he (gasp) is the problem.
A Test of Faith in Argentina.
Dios Mio! Argentina in Trouble.
Critics round on Diego Maradona after Brazil twist knife against Argentina