Aaahr! Me maties, where is that Caribbean loot?
Chuck Blazer, the whistleblower who first brought to light the bribe for votes scandal which implicated Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner is now in the crosshairs of an FBI investigation looking into payments received in his offshore accounts in the Caymans and Bahamas.
Blazer, CONCACAF’s general secretary revealed brown paper bags containing $40,000 in cash were handed out to Caribbean Football Union members in a May 11th meeting between Bin Hammam and the CFU which was arranged by Warner, the CONCACAF president at that time. The fall out was immense as Bin Hammam, the Asian Football chief challenging Sepp Blatter for FIFA’s presidency was forced to withdraw his candidature and banned for life from all football related activities as a FIFA run court found him guilty of bribery charges.
Warner also charged escaped further punishment when he resigned from his post as CONCACAF president. Blatter was elected unopposed and with an overwhelming majority. His election run up was punctuated by hyperbolic statements of ” a black hole” confronting FIFA if he was not elected president and accusations of a revolt led by the English FA.
Blazer came out smelling like roses even as he sold out his good friend Warner, who was responsible for his elevation to CONCACAF general secretary in 1990. In 1996, Sepp Blatter upped the ante by including him in FIFA’s 24 man executive council, the all powerful body that has seen more than a third of its members investigated and suspended on bribery charges and vote rigging the World Cup. It’s clear who feeds Blazer’s hand.
The feeding frenzy continued as Lisle Austin, a close Warner ally who took over as CONCACAF president retaliated by firing Blazer, clearly an arbitrary move without the sanction of the rest of the executive council. Blazer continued in his post and returned fire by barring Austin from entering the CONCACAF office located in the Trump Towers in New York. Eventually, this went to civil court where Austin won a judgment which confirmed him as president. But FIFA in a clear sign it is business for them as usual immediately suspended Austin for a year because he sought legal redress in civil court contravening the organization’s policy of settling disputes within the footballing family.
It is clear that Blazer, a high flyer with a huge appetite for the good things in life knows where his bread is buttered. He has received a number of payments from the CFU all approved by Warner before their split without any disclosure to the type of services rendered. These payments have been credited to offshore accounts in the Bahamas and Cayman islands where Blazer operates private companies which appear to be shells which obviously make tracing back money very difficult. Then there is the small case of a vintage Mercedes which he claims he owns but is registered in Zurich as belonging to FIFA.
Whether the FBI investigation unearths evidence of financial impropriety or tax evasion is unclear at this stage but it appears Blazer’s whistleblowing was not driven by altruistic motives. In the end, one cannot sum up FIFA better than Austin’s lawyer, Barry Blum who after the verdict said this:
” It is laughable that FIFA enjoys a status as a not for profit sporting organization. It is actually a sinister business organization operated by robber barons with no regard for ethics or integrity; power is all that matters.”
Placido Domingo sang while the beautiful game burned. Andrew Jennings and his one stop website for all matters related to corruption in football has more on Chuck Blazer and his dubious dealings.