Former organizing committee chairman Charles “Chuck” Blazer has been officially banned for life from participating in FIFA-related events.
This news is not exactly shocking to those who have been following the FIFA corruption scandal. In May of this year, the US Department of Justice announced that nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were being brought up on criminal charges. During the initial disclosure, Blazer was one of four individuals who had prior testimony unsealed. On November 25, 2013, Blazer pled guilty to 10-counts of criminal misconduct, including racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
Blazer also confessed to taking bribes in exchange for supporting South Africa’s 2010 FIFA bid. He has already handed over more than $1.9 million to the authorities and will most likely be required to surrender more after sentencing.
While working with FIFA, Blazer helped oversee committees that awarded the World Cup to Qatar and Russia. In a 2010 interview with the New York Times, Blazer discussed what he found compelling about the Russian bid.
“In Russia, what was intriguing aside from development issues surrounding the stadiums — what became clear is that there is an economy that 20 years ago started to build new structures,” said Blazer. “What I learned during trip is that there is a true commitment to resources. In Sochi for the Olympics, there are projects going on, about $30 billion worth of work. New roads, stadiums, facilities. They are all far enough along so that it’s not just pie in the sky. I saw their plan and have a certainty it will be fulfilled… From my perspective they will get the job done and done well.”
In hindsight, knowing how unprepared Sochi was during the Olympics in 2014, it’s hard to understand how Blazer could believe the area had sufficient infrastructure in place four years earlier.
Charles Blazer is currently hospitalized in New York with colon and rectal cancer. It is unclear how this will affect his sentencing.
[Photo via CBSLocal.com]