FIFA on Thursday ordered a life ban against Chuck Blazer, a central figure in the corruption scandal that has engulfed world football, for taking millions of dollars in bribes.
“Mr Blazer committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF,” said a statement.
“In his positions as a football official, he was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, payment and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks as well as other money-making schemes.”
The ban on the 70-year-old American was ordered by FIFA’s ethics committee adjudicatory chamber after investigations by football‘s world body and US prosecutors.
The one-time powerbroker of North American footballis a former ally of FIFA leader Sepp Blatter who has agreed to step down because of controversy over US and Swiss investigations into the world body and World Cup tournaments.
Blazer has given evidence to US authorities investigating football corruption and is gravely ill in a New York hospital suffering from cancer.
Blazer has acknowledged to US investigators that he took more than $11 million in bribes from 2005 to 2010.
He has been working undercover for US prosecutors since 2011 even wearing wire taps to record conversations with other FIFA officials.
Media reports say he gained substantially more during his time running the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF.
– Football racketeer –
Blazer was CONCACAF general secretary from 1990 until 2011 when he was forced to step down. He was also a FIFA executive committee member from 1996 to 2013 and a vice president of the US SoccerFederation.
As part of his deal with the US authorities he has agreed not to oppose any ban imposed on him by FIFA or any other football governing body.
Blazer has pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including racketeering, tax evasion, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.
As a FIFA official he influenced the award of World Cup tournaments. And he has admitted to US investigators that he took bribes.
As the powerbroker of US soccer he travelled by private jet, kept two multi-million-dollar apartments in New York — one reportedly for the use of his cats — and a home in the Bahamas.
Behind his back, he was known as “Mr Ten Percent,” a nod to the kickbacks on which he allegedly insisted.
Now wheelchair-bound, he formally pleaded guilty at a closed-door court hearing in Brooklyn in November 2013 — one of four people to plead guilty as part of the sweeping US investigation.
Since then the US Justice Department has stunned FIFA by targeting a coterie of top officials from the Americas as part of the probe.
Seven FIFA officials were detained in a raid on a Zurich hotel on the eve of a FIFA congress at which Blatter won reelection.
The seven are now fighting extradition to the United States and are among 14 new figures facing charges as part of the same inquiry which snared Blazer.
In parallel, Swiss authorities are investigating the attribution of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Amid corruption allegations, both countries have strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Fifa had suspended its investigation into Blazer because of his “ill health” but reopened it in December 2014, leading to his lifelong ban. – Agence France-Presse