A former FIFA official admitted to accepting bribes for the France and South Africa World Cup host bids

Chuck Blazer, left, with (now former) FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Chuck Blazer, left, with (now former) FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Image: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
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Chuck Blazer, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee, admitted in US federal court that he accepted bribes in relation to the selection of sites for the 1998 and 2010 World Cup tournaments, according to case documents from 2013 that were unsealed today (June 3) and posted to the New York Times’ website.

The American soccer official was general secretary of Concacaf, the soccer governing body overseeing the North American, Central American, and Caribbean regions, when he “agreed with other persons in or around 1992 to facilitate the acceptance of a bribe in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup” in France, according to his testimony. He also testified that “[b]eginning in or around 2004 and continuing through 2011 , I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.”

In between, there were bribes and kickbacks accepted in relation to broadcast and other rights, according to the testimony.

The documents suggest that Blazer, who faces up to 20 years in jail, has pleaded guilty and is a cooperating witness in the US justice department’s efforts to prosecute several people connected to FIFA for bribery and corruption, adding a new twist to the growing scandal currently enveloping the soccer world’s governing body. The crisis prompted the organization’s longtime (and recently re-elected) president Sepp Blatter to resign yesterday (June 2).

Interestingly, one of the members of the FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee for the 1998 tournament in France was Michel Platini, the current head of UEFA, Europe’s soccer governing body. While Platini has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, the connection could perhaps put a damper on his efforts to succeed Blatter at the top of FIFA.